Study: Psilocybin Treatment Associated With “Clinically Significant Sustained Reduction in Depressive Symptoms”

In a new study a single dose of psilocybin was associated “with a clinically significant sustained reduction in depressive symptoms and functional disability”, with minimal side effects.

Published by the American Medical Association, the objective of the study was to “evaluate the magnitude, timing, and durability of antidepressant effects and safety of a single dose of psilocybin in patients with MDD [major depressive disorder].”

In this phase 2 trial conducted between December 2019 and June 2022 at 11 research sites in the US, participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive a single dose of psilocybin vs niacin placebo administered with psychological support. Participants were adults aged 21 to 65 years with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition diagnosis of MDD of at least 60 days’ duration and moderate or greater symptom severity.

A total of 104 participants were randomized (51 to the psilocybin group and 53 to the niacin group). “Psilocybin treatment was associated with significantly reduced MADRS scores compared with niacin from baseline to day 43 (mean difference,−12.3 [95% CI, −17.5 to −7.2]; P <.001) and from baseline to day 8 (mean difference, −12.0 [95% CI, −16.6 to −7.4]; P < .001)”, states the study.

“Psilocybin treatment was also associated with significantly reduced Sheehan Disability Scale scores compared with niacin (mean difference, −2.31 [95% CI, 3.50-1.11]; P < .001) from baseline to day 43. More participants receiving psilocybin had sustained response (but not remission) than those receiving niacin.”

Researchers note that “There were no serious treatment-emergent AEs; however, psilocybin treatment was associated with a higher rate of overall AEs and a higher rate of severe AEs.”

Researchers conclude by stating:

Psilocybin treatment was associated with a clinically significant sustained reduction in depressive symptoms and functional disability, without serious adverse events. These findings add to increasing evidence that psilocybin—when administered with psychological support—may hold promise as a novel intervention for MDD.

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