What is needed clinically to use psilocybin to treat depression? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Psilocybin compared favorably with a traditional antidepressant for treating moderate to severe depression, a recent study found. Matthew Johnson, a psychedelics researcher at Johns Hopkins, says an entirely different clinical approach will be required to use psilocybin routinely for depression.

Johnson: That’s really for two reasons: the environment and the guide, the preparation, the monitoring are all important not only to maximize the efficacy, in other words to really help people get better, and to create a positive experience, but also for safety, because people can and they occasionally do, when they’re doing these things on their own, have an anxiety and a panic reaction which is well managed in a clinical setting but that can become harmful when someone’s left on their own.   :27

Johnson urges people with depression that doesn’t seem to be responding to traditional medicines not to simply try psilocybin or another psychedelic drug on their own. He hopes that increasingly abundant research will enable these drugs to be approved soon. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.