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Can Psilocybin Alleviate Cancer Depression, Anxiety?


A single treatment with psilocybin, the chemical found in psychedelic mushrooms, conferred emotional and psychological benefits in people being treated for cancer, with the benefit lasting nearly five years, according to a study published January 28 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The study is a follow-up to one published in 2016, also in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, for which psilocybin was administered to 29 people with cancer to help with psychological distress related to having cancer, such as depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. The new study is the first to assess the duration of benefits associated with the drug.

The 2016 study garnered headlines when it showed that a single dose of psilocybin, combined with nine psychotherapy sessions, led to reductions in anxiety and depression, improved spiritual well-being and quality of life, and improved attitudes toward death in people being treated for cancer.

The new study reassessed those patients at three years and four and a half years following the original psilocybin treatment. Of the original 29 participants, 16 were still alive and 15 participated in the new assessment. Of those, 60 to 80 percent had experienced sustained relief from depression and anxiety. Most also attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin therapy and described it as one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives.



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