A 25mg tablet of psilocybin induces a dreamlike state in patients, increasing the likelihood of successful psychological therapy. However, the researchers warn that the short-term side effects could be frightening, and that help should always be available. According to experts, larger studies with much longer follow-up are still required.
An estimated 100 million people worldwide suffer from severe clinical depression that does not respond to available treatments; 30% attempt suicide.For years, scientists have been researching the effects of psilocybin on mental health disorders.
The latest trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested 1mg, 10mg, and 25mg doses on 233 people from ten countries in Europe and North America, with 25mg producing the best results.The majority had been severely depressed for more than a year and were around the age of 40, according to the researchers from King’s College London and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
Along with psychotherapy, after one 25mg dose of Comp360 psilocybin.
At three weeks, one in three people were no longer classified as depressed.One in every five people saw a significant improvement after 12 weeks.
Dr. James Rucker, the study’s author and consultant psychiatrist, stated that the drug is thought to have “a direct action on the brain, putting it into a more flexible state and providing a window of opportunity for therapy.”
The patients were given psychological support the next day and a week later to help them process their experience.
“Patients shift from ‘What’s wrong with me?’ to ‘What happened to me?'” said psychotherapist Nadav Liam Modlin.
Some patients in all groups experienced side effects such as headaches, nausea, extreme tiredness, and suicidal ideation.
This was not unusual, according to the researchers, but other experts believe it could be dangerous.
Prof Andrew McIntosh, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said the trial provided “the strongest evidence so far to suggest that further, larger, and longer randomised trials of psychedelics are justified.””Psilocybin may one day provide a potentially viable alternative to antidepressants that have been prescribed for decades,” he added.
However, according to other experts, the effects began to fade after 12 weeks.
“Depression can be a long-term problem, and much longer follow-up periods than 12 weeks should be used,” University College London’s Dr Ravi Das said.
A larger trial that will begin soon will investigate how many doses are required to prevent depression from returning.
According to the researchers, it could be three years before the drug is approved.