‘Magic Mushrooms’ Provide Fast, Long-lasting Depression Relief: Study
February 18, 2022 — New research shows that treatment with psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms, relieves major depression for up to a year and possibly longer.
In a study of adults with a long history of depression, two doses of psilocybin combined with supportive “talking” therapy resulted in significant, stable, and persistent antidepressant effects during a follow-up year.
After 12 months, three-quarters of the study participants were responding to antidepressants, and more than half were in remission of their depression, according to researchers at the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“Psilocybin not only produces significant and immediate effects but also has a long duration, suggesting that it may be a uniquely useful new treatment for depression,” said Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. researcher and founding director of the center. Statement.
“Compared to standard antidepressants that need to be taken for a long time, psilocybin has the potential to provide sustained relief from depressive symptoms in one or two doses,” he said.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that psilocybin can change a person’s perception and awareness of their surroundings, as well as their thoughts and feelings. Psilocybin treatment has shown promise in research settings for a range of psychiatric disorders and addictions.
“The results we are seeing are from the study setting and require quite a lot of preparation and structured support from trained clinicians and therapists, and people should not try them on their own,” warned Natalie Ghukasyan, MD, who also worked on the study. . study.
Psilocybin and related compounds are still not available for clinical use under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Current research published in the journal Journal of Psychopharmacologyincluding 19 women and five men with moderate to severe depression. The vast majority were previously treated with standard antidepressants, and more than half reported using antidepressants for current depressive episodes.
During psilocybin treatment, all study participants underwent 6 to 8 hours of “preparatory” meetings with two people trained in psilocybin therapy. They then received two doses of psilocybin about two weeks apart in a comfortable and controlled environment.
They returned for follow-up one day and one week after each session and again at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the second session.
Treatment with psilocybin resulted in a significant reduction in depression, and depression remained less severe for 12 months after treatment.
There were no serious side effects associated with psilocybin in the long-term follow-up period.
“We have not yet collected formal data for the last year in our sample, [but] some of our study participants have stayed in touch and report continued improvement in mood,” Ghukasyan tells WebMD. “A previous study of psilocybin therapy in patients with depression and anxiety symptoms associated with cancer showed that improvements in mood and well-being can be maintained up to 4.5 years after treatment,” Ghukasyan says. The researchers say further research is needed to explore the possibility that psilocybin’s antidepressant effects may last much longer than 12 months.