Psilocybin has substantial antidepressant effects according to a new study

pharmafile | November 5, 2020 | News story | Business Services  

Psilocybin has substantial and enduring antidepressant effects, according to a new study conducted by a team at John Hopkins University. 

Led by Alan Davis, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University’s Psychedelic Research Unit, the team studied 24 volunteers with major depressive disorder (MDD) and found that psilocybin-assisted therapy was at least twice as effective as psychotherapy on its own, and more than four times as effective as available antidepressant drugs.

The study saw the volunteers go through two psilocybin-assisted therapy sessions on the drug with eight hours of preparation followed by a two-hour session with a therapist. After taking a pill of psilocybin, participants would relax on a couch in a living room space with headphones playing music. 

After four weeks, 71% of the participants showed an improvement with a 50% drop in depressive symptoms. After a month, half the group were considered in remission. 

In the research published in JAMA Psychiatry, the team concluded: “Findings suggest that psilocybin with therapy is efficacious in treating MDD, thus extending the results of previous studies of this intervention in patients with cancer and depression and of a non-randomised study in patients with treatment-resistant depression.”

The results are part of a developing body of research that shows MDMA, LSD and magic mushrooms can all be used to treat psychological conditions. This has also marked a general shift in societal attitudes, especially across the United States. 

On 3 November, Oregon voted in favour of Measure 109 to legalise magic mushrooms for therapeutic use, but it still needs to be used under the guidance of a therapist. This step is seen as a positive for the scientific community, as its public acceptance is expected to inspire more research to be carried out on how this substance can treat anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Conor Kavanagh

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