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With One Dose: Psilocybin may relieve treatment-resistant depression

Written by Jason Collins

According to statistics, it’s believed that treatment-resistant depression affects roughly 30% of those who suffer from a major depressive disorder. This means that three out of 10 people who have this disorder don’t respond well to the medications that doctors typically prescribe. To try and help these people, researchers, scientists, and drug developers have been examining the use of psychedelics – substances that have the strength to chemically alter an individual’s thoughts, senses, and moods.

Among other questions, the researchers asked if psychedelics can be used as viable treatment options for major depressive disorder. Recent studies into this treatment option have revealed that single-dose psilocybin (also known as magic mushroom) can be used to provide antidepressant effects in people who have MDD.

What Is Psilocybin? 

Many don’t realize that psilocybin has been used for centuries by indigenous populations for religious and therapeutic reasons. Additionally, since as early as the mid-1900s, psilocybin has been used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and depression. In recent years psilocybin is quickly becoming a hot topic in the medical community for its benefits associated with treating treatment-resistant major depressive episodes. This substance is a psychedelic chemical found naturally in many different mushrooms growing in South America, the US, and Mexico. [2]

Curiously, if a mushroom contains psilocybin, it is often referred to as a ‘magic mushroom’ because of its psychedelic properties. Unfortunately, despite its past use and current potential, the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Administration) has classed psilocybin as a Schedule I substance, meaning it isn’t accepted for medicinal use in the US.

However, you need to note that there has been a renewed interest in legalizing this psychedelic, with Oregon becoming the first US state to legalize psilocybin per supervision regulations. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has even gone so far as to approve psilocybin for the treatment of eating disorders.

With the spotlight on this revolutionary drug, it’s unsurprising that it’s leading the ‘psychedelic drug charge’ and being looked at as a management tool for treatment-resistant major depression episodes. Many researchers and scientists alike are hopeful this drug will be legalized in more US states in the coming year.

Clinical Trial Of Single Dose Psilocybin

A recent study published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine detailed synthesized psilocybin formulations (COMP360) effectiveness in aiding the management of depression episodes. This clinical trial had 233 individuals suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder.

Study participants received either 1mg, 10mg, or 25 mg single doses of psilocybin in specially designed rooms to ensure a calm environment was maintained and control parameters met. [3] After treatment, it was determined that the psychedelic effects of single-dose psilocybin lasted 6 to 8 hours.

It was also uncovered that those who were given the larger 25mg dose experienced a more significant reduction in depressive symptoms than those who received the 1mg dose when re-evaluated three weeks after treatment. [4]

These findings are positive as they demonstrate that larger single doses of synthesized psilocybin formulations can help with treatment-resistant episodes of major depression. With these findings being positive more research is set to begin with more extensive trials.

Single Dose Psilocybin Side Effects

It’s important to note that even though the trial and study findings were positive, there were reported side effects associated with single-dose psilocybin. It’s been determined that across all single dosage levels (1mg, 10mg, and 25mg), 74% of study participants experienced nausea, fatigue, headaches, or dizziness.

In addition, among the worst side effects experienced are suicidal ideation and intentional self-harm across all dosage groups. Yet, it’s important to note that this behavior is typical in those with treatment-resistant depression and that these thoughts and actions occurred over a week after the psilocybin trial.

Bottom line: more research is needed, but single-dose psilocybin has been demonstrated to exert rapid-acting and long-lasting antidepressant effects for those suffering from treatment-resistant episodes of major depression.


  1. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-019-2222-4

  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/magic-mushrooms-single-dose-may-relieve-treatment-resistant-depression-symptoms#Looking-to-the-future

  3. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/a-single-dose-of-psilocybin-for-treatment-resistant-depression

  4. https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-phase-iib-clinical-trial-of-single-dose-psilocybin-for-a-treatment-resistant-episode-of-major-depression/

About the author

Jason Collins