Year: 2022 Source: Cureus. (2022). 14(3), e23647. doi:10.7759/cureus.23647 SIEC No: 20220457

Ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist, is commonly used as an anesthetic and analgesic but has recently shown promising research in treating certain psychiatric conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, and substance use disorder. Due to its euphoric, dissociative, and hallucinogenic properties, ketamine has been abused as a recreational drug, which has led to rigid regulation of medication. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for the American population which was reflected in increased reports of problems regarding their mental health. Mood disorders have dramatically increased in the past two years. Approximately one in ten people stated that they had started or increased substance use because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, rates of suicidal ideation have significantly increased when compared to pre-pandemic levels, with more than twice the number of adults surveyed in 2018 indicating suicidal thoughts “within the last 30 days” at the time they were surveyed. Moreover, many responders indicated they had symptoms of PTSD. The PubMed database was searched using the keyword “ketamine,” in conjunction with “depression,” “suicidal ideation,” “substance use disorder,” and “post-traumatic stress disorder.” The inclusion criteria encompassed articles from 2017 to 2022 published in the English language that addressed the relationship between ketamine and mental health disorders. With this sharp increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and an increased public interest in mental health combined with the promise of the therapeutic value of ketamine for certain mental health conditions, including suicidal ideation, this narrative review sought to identify recently published studies that describe the therapeutic uses of ketamine for mental health. Results of this review indicate that ketamine’s therapeutic effects offer a potential alternative treatment for depression, suicidal ideation, substance use disorders, and PTSD.