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Psilocybin for Depression: A Promising New Path?

Magic Mushroom for Depression

A new study published in The British Medical Journal analyzed the potential of psilocybin as a treatment option for depression.

In March 2024, this systematic review and meta-analysis titled ‘Efficacy of psilocybin for treating symptoms of depression’ explored a psychedelic compound found in certain mushrooms, and their results have significant implications for doctors seeking new tools to combat the widespread mental health condition.

The magic mushroom may help individuals with treatment-resistant depression. It may also be used as an add-on therapy to treat depressive symptoms.

What is the Study About?

This systematic review and meta-analysis had the goal of collecting and analyzing existing research papers on Psilocybin’s efficiency in treating depression.

They searched through several databases and identified nine studies that were relevant. There were a total of 436 adults with depression included.

The analysis focused on comparing the effects of psilocybin with either a placebo or another established treatment.

Researchers measured changes in depression scores before and after treatment to assess psilocybin’s impact.

magic mushroom for depression
Magic mushroom for depression

Promising results, but caution is needed

This new study’s conclusion is in favor of Psilocybin-assisted therapy against depression.

The control group, which received a placebo, was compared to an intervention group that was given Psilocybin, and the results showed significant benefits of Psilocybin therapy.

However, this research has also highlighted some critical points. Even though the overall results are positive, the certainty of the evidence is low.

This is because of factors like the small number of participants in each study and the risk of bias.

Moreover, we have no idea about the long-term effects of Psilocybin treatment, which needs more investigation.

How can psilocybin help doctors?

Despite the need for further evaluation, the current research provides a sneak peek into the future of Psilocybin and its potential as a treatment option.

Here is how healthcare professionals can benefit from this drug.

  • A new approach for treatment-resistant cases:

Unfortunately, the currently available anti-depressants do not work for everyone.

Psilocybin can be a new tool for doctors who deal with treatment-resistant depression, which has been a never-ending problem.

  • Faster relief:

The common antidepressants can take weeks or even months before they exhibit any noticeable improvements.

The current study has suggested that Psilocybin can provide a quicker solution that will relieve debilitating symptoms in affected patients.

  • Addressing underlying causes:

Even though the exact mechanism behind Psilocybin is still not known, researchers think that it might promote neuroplasticity, which enables the brain to make new connections.

This is useful in treating the underlying neurobiological changes associated with depression.

Psilocybin for Depression


Important Considerations for Doctors

While the benefits of Psilocybin are intriguing, it is important to note that Psilocybin is a strong psychoactive compound.

So, using it needs a controlled environment and specialized training for doctors. Here are a few considerations:

  • Psilocybin can induce intense psychedelic experiences in consumers, making them feel overwhelmed. This is why doctors must select the right patients and avoid misdiagnosing.
  • When you use Psilocybin, you will have a therapy session with a professional before and after the treatment. Doctors and therapists must work in unison to make sure that patients get all the help they need.
  • Psilocybin is still considered a highly controlled drug in many places, which makes it hard for doctors to use it in treatments [ref]. There would need to be new rules and laws to make it easier for doctors to use it more widely.

Alternative Treatments Vs Psilocybin for Depression:

Even though Psilocybin has provided a new hope for depression treatment, it must be noted that it is still being analyzed.

Furthermore, the potential of non-pharmaceutical methods can be highly effective.

Let’s explore some popular options and compare them to Psilocybin.

  • Exercise for Depression:


  • Widely accessible, reasonably priced, and shown by science to elevate mood and lessen depressive symptoms.
  • Exercise boosts endorphins, which are organic mood enhancers, and encourages neuroplasticity, which is comparable to psilocybin.


  • Demands constant work and self-control.
  • It is not appropriate for everyone who has physical restrictions.

Exercise Vs Psilocybin for Depression:

  • Exercise has a slower onset of action but is well-tolerated and sustainable on the long-run.


  • Mindfulness Meditation for Depression:


  • It teaches emotional regulation, reduces stress, and improves focus.
  • It can be practiced anywhere and requires minimal equipment.


  • To see results, it might take some time and practice.
  • It requires dedication and self-control to keep up a regular practice.

Mindfulness Meditation Vs Psilocybin for Depression:

  • It provides long-term advantages but demands constant effort.
  • It is not as useful in cases of severe depression.


  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Depression:


  • Non-invasive procedure with proven effectiveness for treatment-resistant depression [ref].
  • Shows faster results than some traditional antidepressants.


  • It is less accessible because it needs access to specific tools and skilled doctors.
  • It can be costly and have unfavorable side effects like headaches or lightheadedness.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Vs Psilocybin for Depression:

  • More readily available for some but can be expensive.
  • It may not be suitable for everyone due to potential side effects. [ref]

Additional Points to Consider:

  • For most patients, a combination of all of these therapies can be the best approach. For this, combine physical activity or meditation with traditional talk therapy or prescribed meds for the best results.
  • It must be noted that some non-pharmaceutical methods, like TMS, require professional guidance and will not be accessible everywhere.
  • Psilocybin therapy is still relatively new and is the subject of ongoing research.  Therefore, before writing a prescription, doctors must think about safety and gather information.

The bottom line

This new study is a remarkable step forward in the field of depression. Even though we need more research, Psilocybin can be a valuable drug to treat depressive episodes.

For healthcare physicians, this medicine can be a new avenue for treatment, specifically for patients who struggle with treatment-resistant depression.

Nevertheless, doctors must pay special attention to safety, patient selection, and the development of proper protocols before they prescribe Psilocybin.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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