Yale researchers are conducting a trial using ketamine to treat depression in people with Parkinson’s disease

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — When you think of Parkinson’s disease, you might think of the motor problems like tremors that some patients have. Now, some Yale researchers are working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to address another big symptom: depression.

“About half of people with Parkinson’s suffer from depression. It dramatically affects quality of life and can also accelerate disease progression,” said Sophie Holmes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale.

The trial uses ketamine, an anesthetic to treat these patients, comparing before and after brain scans.

“This drug is actually a drug that appears to work by changing the way brain cells communicate with each other, allowing them to become more adaptive,” said Dr. Gerard Sanacora, director of Yale’s Depression Research Program.

They enroll people with Parkinson’s disease in the early progression phase.

Holmes said people are now realizing that depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

“This is really the first study that looks at a new intervention that I think should lead to the discovery of a new generation of antidepressants for depression in Parkinson’s disease,” Holmes said.

Sanacora said other studies have focused only on the motor problems of Parkinson’s disease and not on the devastating mood symptoms.

“We have seen the benefits of ketamine and ketamine-like treatments in patients with major depressive disorder. In many cases, it really saved lives,” Sanacora said.

If you want more information about the study, email [email protected] or call (475) 287-9521.

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