Magic mushroom therapy found effective for treating depression

ISLAMABAD, November 11 (online): In a small clinical trial, patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who were given two doses of psilocybin along with psychotherapy showed a reduction in depressive symptoms. The psychedelic’s therapeutic effects persisted for up to 4 weeks with minimal side effects.

New antidepressants are ketamine-like drugs that show a high therapeutic response. A 2014 meta-analysis in Psychopharmacology reports that roughly 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of ketamine effectively reduced depressive symptoms. These effects also lasted 2–3 days after treatment. However, there are some drawbacks.

While currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are some short-term side effects to consider when using ketamine, such as feeling strange or bizarre, numbness, and difficulties speaking.

Ketamine has a high liability for addiction and may have a large potential for abuse. A 2018 study in Neurobiology of Stress found that repeated low-dose ketamine treatments for treatment-resistant depression resulted in cognitive impairments and potential for abuse.

The researchers of the current study recruited adults with MDD who were not taking antidepressant medications and had no history of psychotic disorder, suicide attempts, or hospitalizations. The scientists randomly assigned a total of 24 participants to an immediate or a delayed treatment group.

The psychedelic-assisted therapy lasted for 8 weeks, with 18 in-person visits and 2 days for psilocybin treatment.

Participants in the immediate treatment group began the psilocybin treatment during an 11-hour supportive psychotherapy session. The researchers allowed for a 1.6-week break between the first and second doses. In contrast, the delayed treatment group waited 8 weeks before receiving psilocybin-assisted therapy.

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