Psilocybin compares well with a traditional antidepressant in a group with moderate to severe depression, Elizabeth Tracey reports

May 10, 2021

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Depression can be hard to treat, with even established medicines taking time to be effective and perhaps not helping at all. Now a new study compared the psychedelic drug psilocybin with escitalopram, an established antidepressant, and the results impressed Matthew Johnson, a psychedelics researcher at Johns Hopkins, for the relief of depression.

Johnson: You also had a host of other measures such as for example a measure of mental well-being, where psilocybin not only had a statistically significant but a sizable advantage over escitalopram, the traditional antidepressant. Which to me is consistent with the idea that when people get better with psilocybin it’s a different quality, and the way I put it is people seem to be doing their own heavy lifting psychologically in terms of taking care of their own problems. People come out of these sessions with a sense of agency.  :30

Johnson notes that abundant research on psilocybin has established its benefits in a host of conditions, so he’s not surprised. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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