At-home, sublingual ketamine telehealth is a safe and effective treatment for moderate to severe anxiety and depression: Findings from a large, prospective, open-label effectiveness trial
At-home Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) with psychosocial support and remote monitoring through telehealth platforms addresses access barriers, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Large-scale evaluation of this approach is needed for questions regarding safety and effectiveness for depression and anxiety.
In this prospective study, a large outpatient sample received KAT over four weeks through a telehealth provider. Symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) for depression, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) for anxiety. Demographics, adverse events, and patient-reported dissociation were also analyzed. Symptom trajectories were identified using Growth Mixture Modeling, along with outcome predictors.
A sample of 1247 completed treatment with sufficient data, 62.8 % reported a 50 % or greater improvement on the PHQ-9, d = 1.61, and 62.9 % on the GAD-7, d = 1.56. Remission rates were 32.6 % for PHQ-9 and 31.3 % for GAD-7, with 0.9 % deteriorating on the PHQ-9, and 0.6 % on the GAD-7. Four patients left treatment early due to side effects or clinician disqualification, and two more due to adverse events. Three patient subpopulations emerged, characterized by Improvement (79.3 %), Chronic (11.4 %), and Delayed Improvement (9.3 %) for PHQ-9 and GAD-7. Endorsing side effects at Session 2 was associated with delayed symptom improvement, and Chronic patients were more likely than the other two groups to report dissociation at Session 4.
At-home KAT response and remission rates indicated rapid and significant antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Rates were consistent with laboratory- and clinic-administered ketamine treatment. Patient screening and remote monitoring maintained low levels of adverse events. Future research should assess durability of effects.