There is hope for people living with treatment-resistant depression as a new trial indicate that the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms can help alleviate severe depression when combined with psychotherapy.
The trial shows that at least 100 million people globally have treatment-resistant depression – a major depressive disorder that has not responded to at least two antidepressant treatments. Nearly half of those affected are unable to perform routine daily tasks.
Prof Guy Goodwin, the chief medical officer at Compass Pathways, says the results from the largest clinical trial yet into psilocybin and depression were “exceptional”. “Response rates in this group with treatment-resistant depression are usually between 10 and 20 per cent …we are seeing remission rates at three weeks of about 30 per cent … that is a very satisfactory outcome,” he said.
According to the research, about a third of patients with severe depression went into rapid remission after a single 25mg dose of psilocybin followed by therapy sessions, which aimed to help patients identify causes and potential solutions to their depression.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the results of the trial show that depression scores, measured on the standard Montgomery-Åsberg depression scale, improved immediately after treatment in all three arms of the trial.
The most significant impact was seen in those on the highest 25mg dose of psilocybin. Three weeks after having the drug, 29 per cent of this group was in remission, compared with 9 per cent and 8 per cent of the 10mg and 1mg groups respectively. In addition, at 12 weeks, benefits persisted in a fifth of those in the high-dose group, compared with one in 10 in the lowest-dose group.