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Addictive potential of novel treatments for refractory depression and anxiety

Authors Kolar D

Received 7 March 2018

Accepted for publication 26 April 2018

Published 12 June 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 1513—1519

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S167538

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Dusan Kolar

Mood Disorders Research and Treatment Service, Department of Psychiatry, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: Treatment-resistant mood disorders and anxiety disorders require intensive treatment, but treatment options should balance benefits and adverse effects or other potential detrimental effects on patients, including the risk of developing prescription medication addiction. Some of the newer treatment modalities for mood and anxiety disorders may have similar properties to benzodiazepines. The goal of this review was to identify the potential for developing dependence on the novel treatment approaches to treatment-resistant depression and refractory anxiety disorders. PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Ovid, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar were searched. Ketamine is effective in improving symptoms of major depressive disorder, but with no sustained benefits. Long-term use of oral or intranasal ketamine formulations may be associated with the risk of developing dependence. Augmentation of stimulant medication is usually effective for residual symptoms of depression, but the effects are usually short lasting and there is a potential for abuse. Synthetic cannabinoids and medicinal cannabis are increasingly being prescribed for a number of medical conditions, including anxiety disorders, without enough evidence about their efficacy and with the risk of patients developing dependence. In summary, benzodiazepines, ketamine, stimulant medications, and cannabinoids have some common characteristics, including short-lasting benefits and the risk of developing prescription medication addiction with longer use. All of these treatments may raise ethical dilemmas about the appropriateness of prescribing these medications in the long run for patients with depression and anxiety disorders.

Keywords: treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, addiction, ketamine, cannabinoids

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