In November 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted psilocybin therapy a breakthrough status for depression. This recognition makes it the second time in a year the FDA would designate such a status to psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in psychedelic mushrooms. The FDA’s action is meant to fast-track the typical slow process of drug development and review. Breakthrough status recognition is typically requested and granted only when there is preliminary evidence that suggests a therapy has the potential to provide a substantial improvement over already available therapy.
Breakthrough Status for Psilocybin Research by COMPASS Pathways
In October 2018, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy status to psilocybin therapy in the ongoing clinical trials being conducted by a British life sciences organization, COMPASS Pathways. COMPASS is investigating the potential of the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms effect on severe treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD refers to a type of depression that has defied other treatment options tried by a patient. Specifically, the clinical trial by COMPASS focuses on patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) who haven’t responded well to at least two different antidepressants treatments. An estimated 10% to 30% of MDD patients suffer from this type of TRD.
Breakthrough Status for Psilocybin Research by Usona
This time around, the latest FDA’s breakthrough therapy status is for a clinical trial by a US-based organization, Usona Institute. The Usona’s work focuses on treating MDD patients with a single dose of psilocybin. It is narrowed down to patients who experience episodes of severe depression that last for more than two weeks. According to a statement from Usona Institute, more than 17 million people across the world experience this type of depression. The company further stated that psilocybin has the potential to profoundly impact the brain and wipe away depressive symptoms, thereby leading to a long-lasting benefit.
With more than 300 people across the globe suffering from depression, this groundbreaking potential by psilocybin could signal a significant milestone in how to help treat depression, which is also the world’s leading cause of disability. According to Dr Charles Raison, the director of clinical and translational research at Usona, the groundbreaking FDA’s acknowledgement shows that MDD “represents an unmet medical need and that the available data suggest that psilocybin may offer a substantial clinical improvement over existing therapies.”
Breakthrough Status to Fast-Track the Next Phase
With this designated status, phase 2 of this work by Usona is expected to complete by early 2021. This will also propel the trial to move quickly to its phase 3 trial, going by the past occurrences in previous therapies that received such recognition. Around one-third of treatments that previously received a Breakthrough Therapy status have progressed on to get market approval.
Phase 2 of the Usonal’s research plans to enroll 80 participants where each person will receive either a single dose of psilocybin or a placebo containing niacin. This method is quite similar to other psilocybin studies. And as the trial progresses, there would be a broader perspective on the efficacy of this psychedelic agent in treating the depressive disorder with a single dose, compared to other work focusing on treating depression with multiple doses.
Psychedelics: A Potential Game-Changer for Depression Treatment
It is worth noting also that this is not the first time a psychedelic substance would receive such a laudable recognition by the FDA. In March 2019, the FDA approved ketamine nasal sprays for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. With these recent achievements, there is a possibility that psilocybin and other psychedelics could be a game-changer in the treatment of depression and other emotional sufferings.
What is Depression?
Depression is a prevalent mental health disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide. By exploring the symptoms, causes, and available treatments, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of this complex condition.
Defining Depression and Major Depressive Disorder – Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Major depressive disorder is the most common and severe form of depression, often accompanied by debilitating symptoms that significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning and overall well-being.
Recognizing Depressive Symptoms – Depressive symptoms can manifest both physically and emotionally, including persistent feelings of sadness, lack of energy, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. It is important to note that experiencing a few symptoms does not necessarily indicate depression, but persistent and pervasive symptoms over an extended period may warrant professional evaluation.
The Impact on Mental Health – Depression is a complex mental health disorder that can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life. It can affect relationships, work or school performance, and overall quality of life. Additionally, individuals with depression may experience comorbid mental health disorders, such as anxiety or substance abuse, further exacerbating the challenges they face.
Understanding the Causes of Depression – Depression can arise from a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Genetic predisposition, imbalances in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), chronic medical conditions, trauma, and significant life events can all contribute to the development of depression. Understanding these factors can help inform effective treatment strategies.
Seeking Treatment for Depression – Fortunately, depression is a treatable condition, and seeking professional help is crucial for recovery. Treatment options may include a combination of psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle modifications, and support from loved ones. It is essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each person.
The Importance of Support and Self-Care– In addition to professional treatment, building a support system and practicing self-care are vital components of managing depression. Connecting with understanding friends, family, or support groups can provide valuable emotional support. Engaging in self-care activities such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, practicing relaxation techniques, and pursuing hobbies can also contribute to overall well-being.
What Is Psilocybin Treatment?
Psilocybin treatment has gained significant attention as a promising therapeutic approach that utilizes the properties of magic mushrooms for mental health purposes. In this blog post, we delve into the concept of psilocybin treatment, its potential benefits, and its role in addressing conditions such as depression. By shedding light on this emerging field, we aim to provide a better understanding of how psilocybin therapy is being used in therapeutic settings.
Understanding Psilocybin and Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in various species of mushrooms, often referred to as magic mushrooms. These mushrooms have a long history of cultural and spiritual use, and they contain compounds that can induce altered states of consciousness and profound psychological effects when consumed.
The Basis of Psilocybin Treatment
Psilocybin treatment involves the controlled and supervised use of magic mushrooms in therapeutic settings. It differs from recreational use, as it is conducted in a structured environment with trained professionals. The treatment aims to leverage the transformative properties of psilocybin to facilitate therapeutic breakthroughs and promote psychological well-being.
Therapy Sessions and Integration
Psilocybin treatment typically involves a series of therapy sessions before, during, and after the administration of psilocybin. These therapy sessions provide a supportive and safe environment where individuals can explore their experiences, emotions, and thoughts while under the influence of the psychedelic compound. Additionally, the integration phase focuses on processing and making meaning of the insights gained during the psychedelic experience.
Potential Benefits of Psilocybin Treatment
Psilocybin treatment shows promise in addressing various mental health conditions, with a particular focus on depression. Research suggests that psilocybin-assisted therapy may help individuals with treatment-resistant depression experience significant reductions in depressive symptoms and an improved overall sense of well-being. It is believed that the unique properties of psilocybin can lead to profound shifts in perception, self-reflection, and personal insights that contribute to therapeutic breakthroughs.