After being stigmatized in the 1960s, we are now experiencing a renaissance in the use of psychedelic drugs to help treat depression and mental health problems.
One of the latest examples is therapy with the help of psilocybin, a hallucinogenic ingredient found in so-called magic mushrooms, which has shown promise in a growing number of small studies to treat depression and anxiety. at the end of life.
A previous study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers had found that psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved the symptoms of severe depressive disorder in adults for up to a month.
Now, in a follow-up study of these participants, researchers have found that the antidepressant benefits of psilocybin-assisted therapy, combined with psychotherapy, could keep depressive symptoms at bay for at least a year for some patients after two. doses administered a few. weeks difference.
This is especially promising news, as existing treatments should be taken on a regular basis, often for extended periods of time, and do not work for everyone.
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Psilocybin treatment for major depression
The researchers recruited 27 people with a long-term history of depression, most of whom had depressive symptoms for about two years before recruitment, according to the study published in Journal of Psychopharmacology. They then used an established scoring system called the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale to assess participants ’depressive symptoms: a score of more than 24 indicated severe depression, while a score of seven or less suggested no depression.
The overall score for “most participants” decreased from 22.8 in pretreatment to 7.7 a year after treatment. In addition, during the 12-month period, there were no “serious adverse events considered related to psilocybin.”
“Our findings add evidence that, under carefully controlled conditions, this is a promising therapeutic approach that can lead to significant and lasting improvements in depression,” said Natalie Gukasyan, MD, adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns. Hopkins University School. of Medicine, in a press release.
It should be noted, however, that these results were obtained in a research environment and required extensive preparation and structured support from qualified physicians and therapists. “People shouldn’t try to prove it on their own,” the researchers warned.
A growing renaissance of psychedelic research
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, psilocybin can cause perceptual changes and alter a person’s awareness of their environment as well as their thoughts and feelings. There has been a growing renaissance of the study with classic psychedelics over the past 20 years, and this is the latest example illustrating the potential of psilocybin to treat a variety of mental health problems and addictions in research settings. . In previous research, it has even been shown to increase lasting connections between neurons in the mouse brain, implying that brain damage caused by depression can be reversible with psychedelic mushrooms.
“Psilocybin not only produces significant, immediate effects, but also has a long-lasting effect, suggesting that it may be a new and useful treatment for depression,” said Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., founding director of Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic. and Search for consciousness.
“Compared to standard antidepressants, which must be taken for long periods of time, psilocybin has the potential to permanently relieve the symptoms of depression with one or two treatments.”
The researchers stress that more research is needed to investigate the possibility that the effectiveness of psilocybin treatment may last well over 12 months. With psychedelics increasingly explored by scientists in research settings, learning this and more could be just a matter of time.