Introduction: Ketamine intravenous therapy (KIT) appears effective for treating depression in controlled trials testing a short series of infusions. A rapidly proliferating number of clinics offer KIT for depression and anxiety, using protocols without a strong evidence basis. Controlled comparison of mood and anxiety from real-world KIT clinics, and the stability of outcomes, is lacking.
Methods: We performed a retrospective controlled analysis on patients treated with KIT in ten community clinics across the US, between 08/2017-03/2020. Depression and anxiety symptoms were evaluated using the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report 16-item (QIDS) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scales, respectively. Comparison data sets from patients who did not undergo KIT were obtained from previously published real-world studies.
Results: Of 2758 patients treated, 714 and 836 met criteria for analysis of KIT induction and maintenance outcomes, respectively. Patients exhibited significant and concordant reduction in both anxiety and depression symptoms after induction (Cohen’s d = -1.17 and d = -1.56, respectively). Compared to two external datasets of KIT-naive depressed patients or patients starting standard antidepressant therapy, KIT patients experienced a significantly greater reduction in depression symptoms at eight weeks (Cohen’s d = -1.03 and d = -0.62 respectively). Furthermore, we identified a subpopulation of late-responders. During maintenance, up to a year post-induction, increases in symptoms were minimal.
Limitations: Due to the retrospective nature of the analyses, interpreting this dataset is limited by incomplete patient information and sample attrition.
Conclusions: KIT treatment elicited robust symptomatic relief that remained stable up to one year of follow-up.