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Is Psilocybin Safe and Effective for Treatment-Resistant Depression?


Psilocybin found safe for treating depression, but clinical trial warns of adverse side effects

Depression is a mental health disorder that affects a person's mood, thoughts, and behaviors. It is characterized by sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities a person once enjoyed. Depression can range in severity and duration from mild and temporary episodes to chronic and debilitating conditions that interfere with daily functioning.

Symptoms of depression include sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, making decisions, persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, and changes in appetite or weight. Genetic, environmental, and psychological factors can cause depression. It is a treatable condition with various forms of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is a type of depression that does not respond to standard treatments such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. It is the failure of at least two treatments at adequate doses and durations. TRD is a challenging condition to treat, affecting approximately 10-30% of individuals with depression. Working closely with a mental health professional to identify the underlying causes of TRD and develop an effective treatment plan is essential.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in certain species of mushrooms, known as "magic mushrooms." It has been used for centuries for its hallucinogenic properties and is currently being studied for its potential therapeutic effects on various mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

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In a clinical trial, researchers tested the effects of psilocybin on people who have depression that doesn't respond to standard treatments. They randomly assigned the 233 participants to receive psilocybin at different doses (1 mg, 10 mg, or 25 mg) and psychological support. They measured the change in depression symptoms three and twelve weeks after the treatment using a depression rating scale and looked at secondary measures, including response rate and remission. The researchers also followed up with the participants to see if the effects lasted longer.

The group that received 25mg had the most significant improvement in symptoms, while the 10mg group had some improvement. Adverse events were reported in 77% of participants, including headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Suicidal ideation or behavior, or self-injury, occurred in all dose groups.

Overall, the study highlights the need for more extensive and extended trials to determine the efficacy and safety of psilocybin for treating depression. While the results of this study are promising, further research is needed before psilocybin can be considered a viable treatment option for depression.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03775200, Feb-07-23

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. CenTrial Data Ltd. does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. Treatments and clinical trials mentioned may not be appropriate or available for all trial participants. Outcomes from treatments and clinical trials may vary from person to person. Consult with your doctor as to whether a clinical trial is a suitable option for your condition. Assistance from generative AI tools may have been used in writing this article.