Psilocybin, the active compound in psychedelic mushrooms, may be more effective than a leading antidepressant medication in treating clinical depression, according to a study published April 15, 2021. THOMAS ANGUS/IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
The active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms may be more effective at treating depression than a leading antidepressant, a study has found, potentially opening up new avenues of treatment for troops who suffer from the debilitating condition.
The severity of depressive symptoms dropped by at least half in 70% of people who were given psilocybin in clinical trials conducted last year at Imperial College London, the study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine said. Only 48% of a group that took the common antidepressant escitalopram saw a similar decrease.
Thirty of 59 patients were given two separate doses of 25 milligrams of psilocybin at three-week intervals, and took a daily placebo for six weeks. The others received two much smaller doses of psilocybin — 1 mg — three weeks apart and took escitalopram, which is marketed under brand names like Cipralex and Lexapro, daily for six weeks.
All the patients had long-term, moderate to severe clinical depression and received psychological counseling throughout the study.
In addition to showing larger reductions in depressive symptoms, the psilocybin group reported greater improvements in their ability to cry or feel compassion, intense emotion and pleasure, the study said. They also said they felt less drowsy than those who took escitalopram.
Published: April 19, 2021
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