A qualitative study of patients' experience of ketamine treatment for depression: The ‘Ketamine and me’ project

Chris Griffiths, Kate Walker, Isabel Reid, Ksenija Maravic da Silva, Alex O'Neill-Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
There has been a lack of in-depth interviews investigating patient experience of ketamine treatment for depression. We examined participants’ pathways to receiving ketamine infusion to treat their depression, and their responses to, lived experiences of, and attitudes towards ketamine treatment.

Methods
Qualitative methods were used to conduct in-depth interviews with 13 patients (6 male; 7 female) diagnosed with treatment resistant depression (TRD) with experience of receiving ketamine treatment for depression. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was employed.

Results
For the majority of participants ketamine infusion causes a reported initial ‘high’, enhanced perception, and dissociative experience; followed by a lifting of mood and a reduction in or removal of suicidal ideation and depression symptoms lasting around 3–6 days. This leads to a reported increase in motivation, socialisation, and activity. All participants valued the therapeutic alliance with clinicians which enhanced the treatment experience and all advocated treatment access for those with depression who have not responded to other treatments.

Limitations
Small numbers, purposive sample, participant self-selection, and single site recruitment limit generalisability.

Conclusions
Ketamine for depression can have many beneficial effects, and it is potentially life-transforming for some. Ketamine may be a source of hope for patients for whom other treatments have not been effective. For some, ketamine is not tolerated or does not have anti-depressive effects. Further qualitative in-depth exploration of patient experience and consideration of how ketamine depression treatment access can be appropriately made available are warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100079
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders Reports
Volume4
Early online date15 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

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