Feb. 18, 2022 — Treatment with psilocybin, the psychedelic found in “magic mushrooms,” relieves major depression for up to a year, and maybe even longer, new research finds.
In a study of adults with a long-term history of depression, two doses of psilocybin, combined with supportive ‘talk’ therapy, led to large, stable and lasting antidepressant effects over one year of follow-up.
After 12 months, three-quarters of those in the study had an antidepressant response, and more than half were in remission from their depression, report researchers from the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.
“Not only does psilocybin produce significant and immediate effects, it also has a long duration, suggesting it may be a uniquely useful new treatment for depression,” Roland Griffiths, PhD, a research investigator and founding director of the center, said in a statement. .
“Compared to standard antidepressants, which have to be taken over a long period of time, psilocybin has the potential to provide lasting relief from the symptoms of depression with one or two treatments,” he said.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that psilocybin can alter a person’s perception and awareness of their environment and of their thoughts and feelings. Psilocybin treatment has shown promise in research settings for the treatment of a range of mental disorders and addictions.
“The results we’re seeing are in a research setting and require quite a bit of preparation and structured support from trained clinicians and therapists, and people shouldn’t try to try on their own,” cautioned Natalie Gukasyan, MD, who also worked on the study.
Psilocybin and related compounds are still not available for clinical use under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
The current study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, included 19 women and five men with moderate to severe depression. The vast majority had previously been treated with standard antidepressants and more than half reported taking antidepressants in their current depressive episodes.
At the time of psilocybin treatment, all study participants completed 6 to 8 hours of “preparatory” meetings with two people trained in psilocybin therapy. They were then administered two doses of psilocybin approximately 2 weeks apart in a comfortable and controlled environment.
They returned for follow-up 1 day and 1 week after each session and then 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after the second session.
Treatment with psilocybin resulted in a marked decrease in depression and depression remained less severe up to 12 months after treatment.
There were no serious adverse events related to psilocybin in the long-term follow-up period.
“We have not yet collected formal data for the past 1 year in our sample, [but] some participants in our study have kept in touch and report continued improvements in mood,” Gukasyan tells WebMD.
“A previous study of psilocybin-assisted therapy in patients with cancer-related depression and anxiety symptoms found that improvements in mood and well-being can persist for up to 4.5 years after treatment,” Gukasyan says.
The researchers say further research is needed to examine the likelihood of psilocybin’s antidepressant effects lasting much longer than 12 months.
This post ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Provide Fast, Long-Lasting Depression Relief: Study
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