The objective of this study was to investigate the safety of repeated parenteral ketamine for depression. An electronic survey inquiring about the frequency of adverse events was distributed to providers of parenteral ketamine for depression. In addition, the investigators conducted a search of published studies describing six or more repeated parenteral ketamine treatments administered to individuals for depression, and extracted reported adverse events. The survey was sent to 69 providers, of which 36 responded (52% response rate); after eliminating those that were incomplete, 27 were included in the analysis. The providers in the analysis collectively reported treating 6630 patients with parenteral ketamine for depression, one-third of whom received more than 10 treatments. Only 0.7% of patients experienced an adverse effect that required discontinuation of ketamine. Psychological distress during the treatment was the most frequent cause. Other adverse events were extremely rare (such as bladder dysfunction (0.1%), cognitive decline (0.03%) and psychotic symptoms (0.03%)). Among the 20 published reports of repeated parenteral ketamine treatments, rates of significant adverse events resulting in discontinuation were low (1.2%). The rate of adverse effects reported in the survey and the published literature is low, and suggests that long-term treatment of depression with ketamine is reasonably safe.
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