Clinical and biological predictors of psychedelic response in the treatment of psychiatric and addictive disorders: a systematic review

This systematic review (2021) of studies from 1990 to 2020 aimed to determine factors that can predict successful response to psychedelic treatment. In a variety of disorders, the authors found that the intensity of the experience was the best such predictor.


Background: The use of psychedelic treatments has shown very promising results in some psychiatric and addictive disorders, but not all patients achieved a response. Aim: The aim of this review is to explore the clinical and biological factors which could predict the response to psychedelics in psychiatric and addictive disorders.

Methods: A systematic research was performed on MEDLINE, PsycInfo, Web of science, and Scopus databases from January 1990 to May 2020. All studies investigating the predictive factors of response to psychedelics regardless of psychiatric or addictive disorders, were included.

Results: Twenty studies investigating addictive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depressive and anxiety symptoms in patients with life-threatening cancer were included in this review. We found that, in all indications, the main predictive factor of response to psychedelics is the intensity of the acute psychedelic experience. Indeed, we found this factor for alcohol and tobacco use disorders, treatment-resistant depression, and anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with life-threatening cancer, but not for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Conclusion: The intensity of the acute psychedelic experience was the main predicting factor of response. The action mechanism of this experience was not clear, but some hypotheses could be made, such as a modulation of serotoninergic system by 5-HT2A receptors agonism, a modulation of the default mode network (DMN) with an acute modular disintegration of the DMN followed by a re-integration of this network with a normal functioning, or an anti-inflammatory effect of this treatment.”

Authors: Bruno Romeo, Marianne Hermand, Amélie Pétillion, Laurent Karila & Amine Benyamina

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