October 01, 2018

Nasal spray to provide rapid depression relief under study

When depression becomes severe, every moment counts. That's why the approval of a drug that improves symptoms of depression in a matter of hours could someday provide hope for many with this common condition.

A study published online in the July 2018 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry demonstrates that a nasal spray of the drug esketamine provides this effect. The study involved 68 people who were experiencing major depression. The participants received either esketamine or a placebo twice weekly for four weeks in addition to standard antidepressant therapy.

When compared with those given a placebo, those given esketamine reported significant symptom improvement just four hours after the initial dose. This is important because standard antidepressants often require weeks to months to reach their optimal effects. Esketamine nasal spray is still under study and has not received Food and Drug Administration approval.

Mayo Clinic experts say there's a real need for fast-acting symptom relief of depression, and the availability of such an option has the potential to revolutionize how the condition is managed.