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Psych Congress NetworkStudies Illustrate Potential of MDMA-, Psilocybin-Assisted Therapies

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies: A New Frontier in Mental Health Treatment

The recent virtual Sana Symposium highlighted the potential of MDMA- and psilocybin-assisted therapies in treating several mental health conditions. Steering Committee Members Andrew Penn, RN, PMHNP, and Charles Raison, MD, discussed the progress being made toward FDA approval of these interventions.

Key Points

  • Late-stage trials for MDMA-assisted therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the use of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are underway.
  • Evidence suggests that 1 to 2 high doses of psilocybin can produce therapeutic benefits across a range of conditions.
  • A Phase 2B study found that a 25mg dose of psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, produced a significant drop in patients’ scores on the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) after 12 weeks.
  • A Phase 2 study conducted by Usona Institute researchers examined the effect of a single dose of psilocybin for MDD1. The average MADRS score among patients receiving 25-mg of psilocybin decreased by 20 points with no decay in effectiveness.
  • Side effects of psilocybin use, most of which were found to be mild or moderate and occurring on the day of dosing, included increased blood pressure and heart rate, headaches, paranoia, and/or anxiety.

We’ve all had patients who are kind of stuck. There are different ways we can look at this ‘stuckness.’ Traditionally, we’ve approached these conditions with psychotherapy, which can engender some benefit, or with psychopharmacology—a pill taken on a daily basis. This is a different model. It’s using a drug only a handful of times in conjunction with psychotherapy to see if we can get better outcomes using both modalities combined.
— Andrew Penn, RN, PMHNP, Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing

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