What Does Psychedelic Therapy Against Traditional Antidepressant Trial Pits Looks Like?

A first-of-its-kind clinical trial has pitted a common antidepressant against psilocybin, the main psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms. The results, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, are decidedly mixed with the primary depression measure revealing no significant difference between the two treatments, but a number of secondary measures notably favoring psilocybin.

A unique clinical trial comparing the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy to a common antidepressant delivered perhaps the most divisive study of the year. While the primary outcome used to measure depression revealed no statistically significant difference between the two treatment modalities, most of the secondary measures indicated psilocybin was superior to antidepressants. If anything, the study highlighted how difficult it is to objectively measure mental health.

As research into psychedelic psychotherapy accelerates around the world it seems as though we may be just a few years away from these paradigm-shifting treatments becoming clinically accessible. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even granted Breakthrough status to psilocybin therapy for both major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression, helping speed up ongoing Phase 2 trials.

Although early signs suggest psilocybin psychotherapy may be effective in treating depression, until now there has not been any robust research directly comparing this new treatment to common antidepressant treatments. To fill this gap in the science a team of researchers from Imperial College London’s Centre for Psychedelic Research conducted a phase 2, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial.

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