Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up

R L Carhart-Harris, M Bolstridge, C M J Day, J Rucker, R Watts, D E Erritzoe, Mendel Kaelen, B Giribaldi, M Bloomfield, S Pilling, J A Rickard, B Forbes, A Feilding, D Taylor, H V Curran, D J Nutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

469 Citations (Scopus)
573 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Rationale Recent clinical trials are reporting marked improvements in mental health outcomes with psychedelic drug-assisted psychotherapy. Objectives Here, we report on safety and efficacy outcomes for up to 6 months in an open-label trial of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Methods Twenty patients (six females) with (mostly) severe, unipolar, treatment-resistant major depression received two oral doses of psilocybin (10 and 25 mg, 7 days apart) in a supportive setting. Depressive symptoms were assessed from 1 week to 6 months post-treatment, with the self-rated QIDS-SR16 as the primary outcome measure. Results Treatment was generally well tolerated. Relative to baseline, marked reductions in depressive symptoms were observed for the first 5 weeks post-treatment (Cohen’s d = 2.2 at week 1 and 2.3 at week 5, both p < 0.001); nine and four patients met the criteria for response and remission at week 5. Results remained positive at 3 and 6 months (Cohen’s d = 1.5 and 1.4, respectively, both p < 0.001). No patients sought conventional antidepressant treatment within 5 weeks of psilocybin. Reductions in depressive symptoms at 5 weeks were predicted by the quality of the acute psychedelic experience. Conclusions Although limited conclusions can be drawn about treatment efficacy from open-label trials, tolerability was good, effect sizes large and symptom improvements appeared rapidly after just two psilocybin treatment sessions and remained significant 6 months post-treatment in a treatment-resistant cohort. Psilocybin represents a promising paradigm for unresponsive depression that warrants further research in double-blind randomised control trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399–408
Number of pages10
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume29
Issue number3
Early online date8 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this