First-of-its-kind study found Magic mushroom promising for depression treatment
London, April 15, 2021 (AltAfrica)–Psychedelic drug psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, is as good at reducing symptoms of depression as conventional treatment, a small, early-stage study has suggested.
But when it comes to actively improving people’s well-being and ability to feel pleasure, the psychedelic drug may have had a more powerful effect.
Psychedelics are being studied for a range of mental-health conditions.
But experts caution that this is a small trial with more research needed.
For the past three decades, since Prozac hit the market, new drugs for depression and anxiety have generally been variations on the same theme.
Yet for a considerable chunk of people they cause undesirable side-effects, stop working over time or don’t work in the first place.
The psilocybin trial’s leaders said there was appetite for “novel” treatments that took a different approach.
The trial’s 59 participants were given either psilocybin or a common antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
The scientists from Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research measured participants’ mood and functioning using a number of different measures.
Their primary measure scores people’s symptoms of depression based on their answers to questions about sleep, energy, appetite, mood and suicidal thoughts.
These questions are largely negatively focused: they ask whether someone is feeling sad, but not whether they are feeling happy.
By this measure, psilocybin performed as well as a conventional antidepressant – an SSRI called escitalopram.
All 59 participants saw comparable reductions in their depressive symptoms.
But on several other measures – though they weren’t the scientists’ primary focus – the psychedelic drug performed considerably better.
That includes measures of work and social functioning, mental well-being and the ability to feel happy.
The study is among the first to pit the psychedelic head-to-head with a traditional depression treatment – and to open the trial to anyone with moderate-to-severe depression, not just those for whom all other treatments had failed. BBC