A new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research suggests that ketamine may be a valid treatment option for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) associated with depression, which tends to be more resistant to other types of treatment in these cases.
“This analysis was directly inspired by my experience in treating patients with depression and borderline personality disorder,” said the study’s author, psychiatrist Joshua D. Rosenblat, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, in an interview with PsyPost.
“I have seen this population being stigmatized and often undertreated for depression, assuming that all symptoms are caused by the personality disorder. As I have personally witnessed incredibly positive outcomes with intravenous ketamine in this group, I wanted to conduct a quantitative analysis to verify if the benefits and safety were comparable to those without personality disorders.”
Rosenblat noted that comorbid BPD is a frequent exclusion criterion in clinical trials: “I consider this to be a reason why this is a particularly interesting question, as previous studies may or may not apply to the treatment-resistant depression group with comorbid BPD.”
For the study, researchers analyzed 100 volunteers who received four doses of ketamine over a two-week period. Half of the individuals had both depression and BPD (group 1), while the other half had depression only (group 2).
The researchers found that patients in group 1 experienced significant improvement in depression symptoms after receiving ketamine infusion, similar to the response observed in group 2. In both cases, the initially classified severe depression symptoms were reclassified as moderate.
BPD symptoms also showed improvement after ketamine treatment.
“The most surprising part of the analysis was the reduction in BPD symptoms,” Rosenblat said. “I expected the depressive symptoms to improve, but I did not expect the BPD symptoms to improve. The BPD symptoms improved rapidly and robustly. This needs to be further tested, but it was quite encouraging to see.”
Both groups also showed reductions in anxiety levels and suicidal ideation.
“It is important to emphasize that I am not suggesting ketamine as a treatment for BPD, but rather that for patients with depression and BPD, it can still be a suitable treatment option if other options have failed,” Rosenblat emphasized.
To read the full study, click here.
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