The experimental effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis

This meta-analysis (2020) reported favorably on four trials (n=117) that studied the effect of psilocybin-assisted therapy for anxiety and depression.

Abstract

The current meta-analysis examined the effects of psilocybin in combination with behavioral interventions on anxiety and depression in samples with elevated symptoms. Across four studies (one uncontrolled; three randomized, placebo-controlled; N = 117), within-group pre-post and pre-follow-up effects on anxiety and depression were large (Hedges’ gs=1.16 to 1.47) and statistically significant. Across three placebo-controlled studies, pre-post placebo-controlled effects were also large (gs = 0.82 to 0.83) and statistically significant. No serious adverse events were reported. Limitations include the small number of studies and risk for bias within studies. Results tentatively support future research on psilocybin for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Authors: Simon B. Goldberg, Brian T. Pace, Christopher R. Nicholas, Charles L. Raison & Paul R. Hutsong

Notes

“The current meta-analysis evaluated effects of psilocybin coupled with supportive behavioral interventions on anxiety and depression. Although a small number of studies were included, available data were promising. Within-group effects at post-treatment and six-month follow-up showed large reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms with no evidence of publication bias.”

“Additional large-scale studies examining the effects of psilocybin on treatment-resistant depression may be warranted, as only one of the four studies focused on this population. It may be valuable to evaluate various behavioral interventions to support or extend benefits of psilocybin treatments.”

The study didn’t get financial support directly, but two authors are affiliated with Usona Institute.

The studies included in the meta-analysis were:

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