Psilocybin effects 4 times more potent than traditional anti-depressants
A new study of 24 adults with severe depression shows that as little as two doses of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapeutic support, resulted in a sudden and significant reduction in symptoms of depression. Most participants showed improvement and half achieved disease remission in 4 weeks.
Psilocybin is a molecule that occurs in the so-called magic mushrooms. It is responsible for visual and auditory hallucinations and significant changes in human consciousness.
The research was published on November 4, 2020 in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Psilocybin effects 4 times more potent than traditional antidepressants
“The magnitude of the result we got is about four times greater than what clinical studies have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” wrote study co-author Alan Davis of Johns Hopkins University.
The values for the results of this study are 2.5 times greater than the effects of psychotherapy and 4 times greater than the size of the results reported in studies of traditional pharmacological methods of addressing depression.
“Since most other treatments take weeks or months to be effective, with side effects at the same time, it could be a complete revolution if our results are confirmed in subsequent studies,” Davies wrote.
And compared to traditional antidepressants, the side effects of psilocybin are much smaller. They include mild to moderate headaches and difficult emotions during the session. Current antidepressants have far more serious side effects, such as suicidal thoughts, loss of libido, and weight gain.
Moreover, the sustained effectiveness of psilocybin therapy appears after just one or two doses, which is an obvious advantage over the commonly used antidepressants that are typically taken daily.
The researchers recruited 24 volunteers – 16 of them women – each with a long history of depression. Most of the volunteers experienced symptoms of depression for more than two years prior to entering the study. The average age of the volunteers was 39.
Participants underwent two 5-hour psilocybin sessions under the supervision of scientists.
Participants were required to stop taking all antidepressants for some time prior to testing. The goal was safe and meaningful exposure to experimental therapy. It was done under the supervision of doctors.
Treatment included two doses of psilocybin administered by researchers who ensured participants had a safe trip in a controlled clinical setting. Doses were administered two weeks apart and each of the two sessions lasted approximately 5 hours. At that time, the participants were lying on the sofas, blindfolded and with music in the headphones, along with the constant presence of scientists monitoring the therapeutic process.
Conclusions: High reduction of depression symptoms
Each of the study participants was asked to complete the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. They did this three times: before, one week after, and four weeks after the last psilocybin session.
On the Hamilton Questionnaire, a score of 24 or more indicates severe depression. A score of 17-23 indicates moderate depression, 8-16 mild depression, and a score of 7 and below indicates no depression symptoms.
On entry into the experiment, the mean participants’ score was 23. However, as early as a week and 4 weeks after psilocybin therapy sessions, the score dropped to 8.
Most participants showed a significant reduction in symptoms of depression and half of them were in complete remission of the disease 4 weeks after the session. This means they have become disease-free.
The percentage results for the entire 24-person group are as follows:
● 67% of respondents showed over 50% reduction in symptoms of depression one week after the session.
● 71% four weeks after the session
● 54% of participants were free from depression 4 weeks after the therapy session
The study is not over yet
The researchers noted that they would monitor all participants in the experiment for the next 12 months to determine how long the effects of psilocybin were long lasting. The results will be published in the next paper.
In 2016, researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine proved for the first time that psilocybin therapy under psychological support significantly reduced anxiety and depression in people diagnosed with life-threatening cancer.
The American National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over 17 million Americans and 300 million people worldwide suffer from severe depression.
Everything points to the fact that we live in a time of breakthrough and the emergence of a completely new paradigm in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Authors: Alan K. Davis, Frederick S. Barrett, Darrick G. May, Mary P. Cosimano, Nathan D. Sepeda, Matthew W. Johnson, Patrick H. Finan, and Roland R. Griffiths
Posted in: JAMA Psychiatry
Date of publication: November 4, 2020
DOI: doi: 10.1001 / jamapsychiatry.2020.3285