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Psychedelic Therapy Appears to be as Effective as a Leading Antidepressant

Read the original article here. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine,The phase 2, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial compared psilocybin to the antidepressant medication escitalopram.

The researchers recruited 59 men and women between the ages of 18 and 80 years who suffered from moderate-to-severe depression for their 6-week trial. Thirty patients were randomly assigned to the psilocybin group, while the remaining 29 patients were assigned to the escitalopram group.

The researchers also found that patients in the escitalopram group were more likely to report side effects such as anxiety, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, and reduced emotional responsiveness compared to those in the psilocybin group. Patients in the psilocybin group reported greater improvements in the ability to cry and feel compassion, intense emotion, and pleasure.

While the initial findings are encouraging, the study has some limitations.

The duration of treatment could also be a factor. SSRIs like escitalopram can take several weeks to start reducing symptoms. “Had the course of escitalopram been extended, it is possible that better efficacy would have been observed among the patients in the escitalopram group,” the researchers noted.

The Conclusion:

On the basis of the change in depression scores at week 6, this trial did not show a significant difference in antidepressant effects between psilocybin and escitalopram in a selected group of patients. 

Secondary outcomes generally favored psilocybin over escitalopram, but the analyses of these outcomes lacked correction for multiple comparisons. Larger and longer trials are required to compare psilocybin with established antidepressants.