Story at a glance
- A 2016 study found that a one-time, single dose of psilocybin offered rapid improvements in the levels of anxiety, depression and dread of death in cancer patients when combined with psychotherapy.
- A follow-up four and half years later indicated substantial, long-lasting effects from the treatment.
- Psilocybin, a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, can affect mood and perception to “regulate arousal and panic responses.”
The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study in 2016 in which researchers found that a one-time, single-dose of psilocybin offered rapid improvements in the levels of anxiety, depression and dread of death in cancer patients. A recent update found that the single dose, combined with psychotherapy, led to long-lasting improvements in these patients approximately five years later.
Psilocybin, a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, was given to patients in the study in 2016 and resulted in immediate, substantial relief of symptoms that was sustained and documented at their follow-ups more than six months later.
Almost five years later, researchers found enduring effects in the subset of participating patients when combined with psychotherapy.
At the four-and-a-half year follow-up, 71 to 100 percent of participants credited improvements in levels of anxiety and depression to the single-dose psilocybin and therapy combination of the study. The participants further "rated it among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives."
Though further research needs to be done, it's thought that because psilocybin can affect mood and perception to "regulate arousal and panic responses," the drug interacts with the networks of the brain to shape it into being more amenable to entertaining new thought patterns.
Researchers believe that psilocybin can be beneficial to patients by strengthening the effects of psychotherapy and aiding in a larger-spanning reduction in symptoms.
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