A landmark study conducted by the Beckley/Imperial Research Programmes’ has provided the first clinical evidence for the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat depression, even in cases where all other treatments have failed.
We gave oral psilocybin to 12 patients with treatment-resistant depression, all of whom had previously tried at least two other treatment methods without success. Participants had suffered from depression for an average of 18 years, with severity ranging from moderate to severe.
Each patient received two doses of psilocybin (10 and 25mg) 7 days apart, accompanied by psychological support before, during, and after each session. Following treatment, all participants showed improvement in depressive symptoms, with 67% exhibiting scores indicating that they were in remission (depression-free) one week later, and 42% remaining so at the three-month stage.
The drug was also well tolerated by all participants, and while it is important to note that this was a very small study with no control group, placebo, or ‘blinding’ (meaning participants were fully aware what they were getting), the results confirm that psilocybin is safe to give to depressed patients, and that further research into this area is warranted.
This fits well with other recent studies showing therapeutic potential for psilocybin in treating end-of-life anxiety, cigarette smoking, and alcoholism.
All participants also underwent brain scans, which we are currently in the process of analysing. Results from this phase of the study will be released shortly, and will help to reveal the neurological underpinnings of psilocybin’s antidepressant effect.
Psilocybin for Depression
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