• Anesthesiology · Jun 2024

    Repurposing General Anesthetic Drugs to Treat Depression: A New Frontier for Anesthesiologists in Neuropsychiatric Care.

    • Connor T A Brenna, Benjamin I Goldstein, Carlos A Zarate, and Beverley A Orser.
    • Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine and Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Perioperative Brain Health Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.
    • Anesthesiology. 2024 Jun 10.

    AbstractDuring the last 100 years, the role of anesthesiologists in psychiatry has focused primarily on facilitating electroconvulsive therapy and mitigating postoperative delirium and other perioperative neurocognitive disorders. The discovery of the rapid and sustained antidepressant properties of ketamine, and early results suggesting that other general anesthetic drugs (including nitrous oxide, propofol, and isoflurane) have antidepressant properties, has positioned anesthesiologists at a new frontier in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Moreover, shared interest in understanding the biologic underpinnings of anesthetic drugs as psychotropic agents is eroding traditional academic boundaries between anesthesiology and psychiatry. This article presents a brief overview of anesthetic drugs as novel antidepressants and identifies promising future candidates for the treatment of depression. The authors issue a call to action and outline strategies to foster collaborations between anesthesiologists and psychiatrists as they work toward the common goals of repurposing anesthetic drugs as antidepressants and addressing mood disorders in surgical patients.Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., on behalf of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

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