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expert reaction to study looking at psilocybin and depressive symptoms and brain images in people with depression

A new study, published in Scientific Reports, finds that patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a ‘reset’ of their brain activity.


Dr Paul Morrison, Consultant Psychiatrist & Senior Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said:

“This is further evidence that psilocybin may turn out to be effective for the most stubborn depression.

“Developments in this area are a priority in psychiatry.  Some people can go through years of suffering, which resists all the standard therapies.

“Larger clinical trials are now indicated.

“The clinical effects of psilocybin in treatment-resistant depression are very encouraging.  That said, whether brain imaging can actually resolve what is going on in the neuronal network is a moot point.”


Prof. Mitul Mehta, Professor of Neuroimaging & Psychopharmacology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said:

“What is impressive about these preliminary findings is that brain changes occurred in the networks we know are involved in depression, after just a single dose of psilocybin. This provides a clear rationale to now look at the longer term mechanisms in controlled studies.”


* ‘Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms’ by Robin L Carhart-Harris et al. published in Scientific Reports on Friday 13 October 2017. 


Declared interests

Prof. Mitul Mehta: “I don’t have any conflicts of interest here or financial interests in this study.

Paid employment or self-employment: Full time employee of King’s College London.

Grant funding: Currently – MRC, Lundbeck, J&J.

Voluntary appointments: None.

Memberships: British Association of Psychopharmacology, British Neuroscience Association, European College of Neuropsychopharmaoclogy.

Decision-making positions: None.

Other financial interest: Have acted as a consultant for Lundbeck recently.”

None others received.


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