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


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.