Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are investigating whether the drug can help people who recover from severe depression to remain well.
Around 200,000 people in Ireland suffer from depression every year and about 6,000 require hospital admission.
Depression tends to return over time, even after it is diagnosed and treated successfully.
Up to 60% of people will become unwell again within the first six months of recovering from an episode of depression.
People with recurrent depression can experience five to nine episodes in their lifetime.
Research professor of psychiatry Declan McLoughlin and his team at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services are running two linked trials.
Ketamine has been shown to provide almost immediate relief from symptoms of depression but has not been tested for preventing depression relapse.
The Keep-Well Trial and the Kindred Trial, funded by the Health Research Board and the Medical Charities Research, will be completed at the end of next year.
The research team is looking for healthy volunteers to complete mood and memory assessments to maintain the scientific quality of the studies.
“We aim to see whether it is possible to harness that powerful antidepressant action of ketamine to prevent future depressive episodes in people who have recently recovered from depression.
“This has never been done before,” said Prof McLoughlin.
- More information is available at https://medicine.tcd.ie/psychiatry/ research/projects/depression-neurobiology.php.