Journal of Psychopharmacology 2016, Vol. 30(12) 1165
The Author(s) 2016
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Enduring clinically significant anxiety and/or depressive symp-
toms are common in patients with cancer, present in 30–40% of
patients in hospital settings (Mitchell et al., 2011). These symp-
toms are associated with a variety of poor outcomes, including
medication non-adherence, increased health care utilization,
adverse medical outcomes, decreased quality of life, decreased
social function, increased disability, hopelessness, increased
pain, increased desire for hastened death, increased rates of sui-
cide, and decreased survival rates (Arrieta et al., 2013; Brown
et al., 2003; Jaiswal et al., 2014).
Although pharmacotherapeutic and psychosocial interven-
tions are commonly used to treat anxiety and depression in
cancer patients, their efficacy is mixed and limited (Grassi
et al., 2014; NCCN, 2014). There are no US Food and Drug
Administration approved pharmacotherapies for cancer-related
psychological distress, the onset of clinical improvement with
anti-depressants is delayed, relapse rates are high, and significant
side effects compromise treatment adherence (Freedman, 2010;
Li et al., 2012).
Rapid and sustained symptom reduction
following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and
depression in patients with life-threatening
cancer: a randomized controlled trial
Clinically significant anxiety and depression are common in patients with cancer, and are associated with poor psychiatrical and recent research suggests a role for psilocybin to treat cancer-related anxiety and depression.
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, 29 patients with cancer-related anxiety and depression were randomly assigned and
received treatment with single-dose psilocybin (0.3 mg/kg) or niacin, both in conjunction with psychotherapy. The primary outcomes were anxiety
and depression assessed between groups prior to the crossover at 7 weeks.
Prior to the crossover, psilocybin produced immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and led to
decreases in cancer-related demoralization and hopelessness, improved spiritual wellbeing, and increased quality of life. At the 6.5-month follow-
up, psilocybin was associated with enduring anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects (approximately 60–80% of participants continued with clinically
significant reductions in depression or anxiety), sustained benefits in existential distress and quality of life, as well as improved attitudes towards
death. The psilocybin-induced mystical experience mediated the therapeutic effect of psilocybin on anxiety and depression.
In conjunction with psychotherapy, single moderate-dose psilocybin produced rapid, robust and enduring anxiolytic and anti-depressant
effects in patients with cancer-related psychological distress.
Continue reading “Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial”