Psychedelic therapy benefits persist five years after treatment

One of the more compelling areas of research currently being investigated in the world of psychedelic science is psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to improve emotional well-being in patients with life-threatening cancer. A new study is offering the first long-term insights into the efficacy of the treatment, revealing a single dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, is still offering persistently positive effects up to five years later.

Dealing with the profound existential distress of a life-threatening cancer diagnosis is a major challenge for most patients. As many as 40 percent of cancer patients are known to develop clinically significant signs of depression or anxiety, and these mental health issues have been linked to worse treatment outcomes or, in some instances, suicide.

Some of the earliest psychedelic studies in the 1950s and 60s explored the effects of LSD on depression and anxiety in cancer patients before research in the area froze for several decades due to societal prohibitions. But post-2000 saw a thawing of regulations, and some of the most comprehensive trials to date have been investigating the potential for psychedelics in treating patients with life-threatening illness suffering existential distress.

The acute results from these studies have been incredibly promising but so far there has been little investigation into the long-term efficacy of these psychedelic interventions. In terms of psychedelic psychotherapy for patients with life-threatening illnesses, the longest follow-up study to date has been 12 months.

A newly published study in the Journal of Pharmacology is offering some of the best long-term insights into psychedelic psychotherapy to date. The study follows a previously published investigation into a single moderate dose of psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, for patients with cancer-related existential distress.

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