Low dose oral ketamine treatment in chronic suicidality: An open-label pilot study

This open-label study (n=32) with 6 dosages (weekly) of oral ketamine (35-210mg/70kg) found that it significantly reduced suicidal ideation in those with chronic suicidal thought, with clinically significant lower scores in 69% of participants at the end (which held at 50% 4 weeks later).


Recently, low-dose ketamine has been proposed as a rapid-acting treatment option for suicidality. The majority of studies to date have utilised intravenous (IV) ketamine, however, this route of administration has limitations. On the other hand, oral ketamine can be administered in a range of settings, which is important in treating suicidality, although studies as to safety and feasibility are lacking. n = 32 adults (aged 22–72 years; 53% female) with chronic suicidal thoughts participated in the Oral Ketamine Trial on Suicidality (OKTOS), an open-label trial of sub-anaesthetic doses of oral ketamine over 6 weeks. Participants commenced with 0.5 mg/kg of ketamine, which was titrated to a maximum 3.0 mg/kg. Follow-up assessments occurred at 4 weeks after the final dose. The primary outcome measure was the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS) and secondary measures included scales for suicidality and depressive symptoms, and measures of functioning and well-being. Mean BSS scores significantly reduced from a high level of suicidal ideation at the pre-ketamine (week 0) timepoint to below the clinical threshold at the post-ketamine (week 6) timepoint. The proportion of participants that achieved clinical improvement within the first 6 weeks was 69%, whereas 50% achieved a significant improvement by the follow-up (week 10) timepoint. Six weeks of oral ketamine treatment in participants with chronic suicidality led to significant reduction in suicidal ideation. The response observed in this study is consistent with IV ketamine trials, suggesting that oral administration is a feasible and tolerable alternative treatment for chronic suicidality.

Authors: Adem T. Can, Daniel F. Hermens, Megan Dutton, Cyrana C. Gallay, Emma Jensen, Monique Jones, Jennifer Scherman, Denise A. Beaudequin, Cian Yang, Paul E. Schwenn & Jim Lagopoulos

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Low dose oral ketamine treatment in chronic suicidality: An open-label pilot study


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Published in
Translational Psychiatry
February 5, 2021
1 citations

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