Psy-Q:  Does psilocybin have the potential to move individuals with major depressive disorder into remission?

Answer

The answer seems to be yes, based on the findings of a study conducted of psilocybin (the active compound found in “magic mushrooms”) by a team at John Hopkin’s Medicine. Results were published in the November 4, 2020 JAMA Psychiatry.

“We found that two doses of psilocybin, given under supportive conditions to people who have been carefully screened and prepared for a psilocybin session, had both rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms. And more than half of the people were in remission for up to four weeks,” said Roland Griffiths, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. Dr. Griffiths also serves as the Oliver Lee McCabe, III Professor in the Neuropsychopharmacology of Consciousness, Department of Psychiatry, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Griffiths pointed out that one surprising aspect of the results is that the treatment was effective in most patients who suffer from major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression is a complex disorder. “From the outset, I imagined there would be a subset of those people who would respond [to psilocybin] and a subset who wouldn’t, but, remarkably, the vast majority of the population that we treated showed clinically significant improvements” he adds.

FDA has granted psilocybin (and MDMA, aka ecstasy or molly) breakthrough designation. Currently, two companies are moving forward on large clinical trials to better understand the potential of psilocybin in the treatment of depression (MDMA is being studied for PTSD). Their research may ultimately result in psychedelics being approved for psychiatric disorders and other medical uses in the not-so-far-off future.

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Last Updated: Apr 21, 2021