Ketamine may help with postpartum depression

April 23, 2024  08:38

Depression in women during pregnancy and immediately after childbirth is a global health problem, Euronews reports. Medics are actively exploring new approaches to treating labouring women. Studies by a team from the United States and China have shown the effectiveness of psychedelics for young mums. So, according to their data, a single injection of S-ketamine in a low dose, made immediately after childbirth, significantly reduces the number of depressive episodes in women with prior prenatal depression.

In a double-blind study that lasted 2 years in Chinese maternity hospitals, doctors examined 361 mothers aged about 32 years without psychiatric diagnoses. The women were divided into two groups: one received S-ketamine and the other a placebo injection about 40 minutes after delivery.

The women were then interviewed about their condition, first 18-30 hours after delivery, then a week later and finally on day 42. In the end, only 6.7 per cent of the mothers who took S-ketamine experienced a major depressive episode, compared to 25.4 per cent of the women who received a placebo. It's true that some mums experienced side effects - dizziness and double vision - after the ketamine injection, but these all disappeared within 24 hours.

"A single dose of intravenous S-ketamine is exceptionally safe, effective and cost-effective for women who are at risk of continued antenatal depression after childbirth," said Dr Rupert McShane, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. - 'The challenge we face in the UK is to find means of controlling depression, in a way that scales the benefit and minimises the risks.'

Ketamine and its derivatives have been on the radar of psychiatrists for years. As for postnatal depression, it has been described by some health professionals as "predictable".

Indeed, according to statistics, every tenth young mother experiences a strong feeling of sadness, anxiety and fatigue. This condition usually begins two to three days after childbirth and can last for months. Other symptoms include insomnia, loss of appetite, severe irritability and difficulty in communicating with the baby. In rare cases, a severe disorder known as postpartum psychosis can develop. Existing treatments include psychotherapy and/or antidepressants, but these take several weeks to work.

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