Those of us who have never felt depression will certainly know people who have, and will have shared with them that impatient hope that with time, exercise, a new season, a new prescription, a new counsellor, the cloud might lift. Thankfully it usually does; it can never feel soon enough.
In the latest Beckley/Imperial study, we selected 12 people who had experienced depression over an average of 18 years, despite all that modern medicine can offer. Instead of daily medication, we wanted to know if their condition would improve after an “inner journey” on a 25mg dose of the psychedelic drug psilocybin. We also wanted to assess the safety of administering these “trips”.
Though all 12 felt some unease as the drug’s otherworldly effects came on, all were able to let go of that anxiety with the reassuring presence of the clinicians, and all of them felt that they benefited from their four-hour “inner journey”. To varying degrees, they moved into the days and weeks afterwards feeling less anxious and more able to take pleasure from life. A week on from their “trip”, eight were in full remission. Three months on, five remained free of depression.
In the 1950s and 60s there was a flood of research into psychedelics and their therapeutic use, with dazzling claims made about their potential. Not all of this work met modern standards of rigour and responsibility. Read more