The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Caoimhe M. Coyle, K.R. Laws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Objective The current meta-analysis examines the effects of ketamine infusion on depressive symptoms over time in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). Methods Following a systematic review of the literature, data were extracted from 21 studies (n = 437 receiving ketamine) and analysed at four post-infusion time points (4 h, 24 h, 7 days and 12-14 days). The moderating effects of several factors were assessed including: repeat/single infusion, diagnosis, open-label/participant-blind infusion, pre-post/placebo-controlled design and the sex of patients. Results Effect sizes were significantly larger for repeat than single infusion at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days. For single infusion studies, effect sizes were large and significant at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days. The percentage of males was a predictor of antidepressant response at 7 days. Effect sizes for open-label and participant-blind infusions were not significantly different at any time point. Conclusions Single ketamine infusions elicit a significant antidepressant effect from 4 h to 7 days; the small number of studies at 12-14 days post infusion failed to reach significance. Results suggest a discrepancy in peak response time depending upon primary diagnosis - 24 h for MDD and 7 days for BD. The majority of published studies have used pre-post comparison; further placebo-controlled studies would help to clarify the effect of ketamine over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-163
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental
Issue number3
Early online date7 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2015


  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • ketamine
  • major depressive disorder


Dive into the research topics of 'The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: A systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this