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Ketamine has gained attention in recent years for its potential in tackling depressive symptoms, but how does it compare to the well-established electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)? A recent systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to answer this major question.

The Research and Methodology

Data from PubMed, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Embase, US and European clinical trial registries, and Google Scholar were analyzed, focusing on studies that compared the clinical efficacy and safety of ECT and ketamine in patients with a major depressive episode.

Researchers analyzed six clinical trials involving 340 patients, with 162 in the ECT group and 178 in the ketamine group. Hedges g standardized mean differences (SMDs) were used for measuring improvement in depressive symptoms, and the studies followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.

And the Winner Is…

According to the results, ECT may have an upper hand in improving depression severity in the acute phase, with an overall pooled SMD for ECT compared to ketamine at -0.69 (95% CI, -0.89 to -0.48; Cochran Q, P = .15; I2 = 39%). However, no significant differences were found between the two treatments when it came to cognition/memory or serious adverse events.

It’s worth noting that both ketamine and ECT had unique side effect profiles, with lower risks for headaches and muscle pain in the ketamine group and lower risks for blurred vision, vertigo, diplopia/nystagmus, and transient dissociative/depersonalization symptoms in the ECT group.

Individualized Treatment for a Happier You

While the results of this study suggest that ECT may be better for improving depression severity, it’s important to remember that treatment should be individualized and patient-centered. With each treatment option having its own set of pros and cons, patients and healthcare providers should consider a variety of factors when choosing the most appropriate option.

Hot Take

In the fight against depression, ECT appears to come out on top for acute severity reduction, but the choice between ketamine and ECT must be tailored to the individual’s needs. It’s a reminder that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing mental health challenges, and keeping patients’ best interests at heart is the key to success. Let’s keep exploring innovative tools and treatments to help conquer depression and improve lives!

This post was written based on content from this original Article