Psilocybin has shown real promise in treating depression. Part of what sets it apart from more conventional antidepressants is that it can reset a person’s system on many different levels at once: mental, emotional, spiritual, and chemical. But is it equal or more effective than antidepressants?
There’s no one-size-fits-all cure for depression. Depending on the source of the problem, one sufferer might require a brain chemistry adjustment, while another might need a change in life circumstances, a perspective shift, or a greater sense of connection to spirit.
Now, researchers at Imperial College London are among the latest to explore the therapeutic value of psilocybin. In the most rigorous study of its kind thus far, one group of depression sufferers was given two psilocybin therapy sessions, while another received 43 daily doses of escitalopram, one of the most effective pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Depression symptoms were alleviated for 70 percent of the people in the psilocybin group, as opposed to 48 percent of the escitalopram group. In the six weeks that followed, symptoms stayed in remission for 57 percent of the psilocybin group, but for only 28 percent of the participants who had received escitalopram.
Encouraging as these results might be, the researchers have made it clear that several factors—for example, the relatively short span of this study, as well as a homogeneity of ethnicity, gender, and education level among the participants—prohibit any hasty conclusions about the merits of psilocybin versus other antidepressants.