Major depression treatment with psilocybin effective for up to a year

Patients who underwent psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to treat major depressive disorder were in remission for up to a year.

1 minute & 47 seconds read time

A new study on psilocybin's effect in the treatment of major depressive disorder has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Major depression treatment with psilocybin effective for up to a year 01

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have previously demonstrated psilocybin's ability to relieve symptoms of major depressive disorder in adults for up to a month. A follow-up study of the same participants has shown "substantial antidepressant effects" that can last for at least a year in some patients after psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy treatment.

"Our findings add to evidence that, under carefully controlled conditions, this is a promising therapeutic approach that can lead to significant and durable improvements in depression," says Natalie Gukasyan, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"The results we see are in a research setting and require quite a lot of preparation and structured support from trained clinicians and therapists, and people should not attempt to try it on their own," Gukasyan continued.

The study followed 27 participants with a long-term history of depression, where 88% had been previously treated with standard antidepressant medications, and 58% using antidepressants for current depressive episodes. To assess depressive symptoms, the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale was used, where a score of 24 or more indicates severe depression, 17-23 moderate depression, 8-16 mild depression, and 7 or less no depression.

For most participants, their scores decreased from 22.8 before treatment to 8.7 one week in, 8.9 at four weeks, 9.3 at three months, 7 at six months, and 7.7 twelve months after treatment. Participants responded during the follow-up period with a 75% response rate, and remission of symptoms was at 58% by the twelve-month mark.

"Psilocybin not only produces significant and immediate effects, it also has a long duration, which suggests that it may be a uniquely useful new treatment for depression," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., the Oliver Lee McCabe III, Ph.D., Professor in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research.

"Compared to standard antidepressants, which must be taken for long stretches of time, psilocybin has the potential to enduringly relieve the symptoms of depression with one or two treatments," Griffiths continued.

You can read more from the study here.

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