While we suspected that psilocybin might perform well compared to the SSRI, we had not expected it to perform as well as it did. In fact, the initial main hypothesis for this trial was that the psilocybin therapy would have superior effects on psychological wellbeing, but not on depression severity scores. This prediction was generally supported, but people in the psilocybin group also showed evidence of greater improvements across most depression measures, as well as anxiety symptoms, work and social functioning, suicidal feelings and the ability to feel emotion and pleasure.
Psilocybin may have antidepressant properties, but direct comparisons between psilocybin and established treatments for depression are lacking.
Can LSD and psilocybin provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression and anxiety? Robin Carhart-Harris is a neuroscientist and head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, which builds on over a decade of pioneering work psychedelic research, including a clinical trial that has kick-started global efforts to develop psilocybin therapy into a licensed treatment for depression.