The FDA is anticipated to approve psilocybin as a therapeutic drug to treat depression within the next two years. This news comes from an official letter sent by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The letter has many interesting statements, but one that stands out is the administration’s stance on psychedelic-assisted therapy.
“Too many Americans are suffering from mental health and substance issues”, and “we must explore the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapies to address this crisis”.
Included in the letters is talk of creating a federal task force to study the benefits of psilocybin and other psychotherapeutic drugs and their potential regulatory framework. This type of committee is already in place in Utah, where government officials are taking a proactive approach to address mental health issues. The Mental Illness Psychotherapy Drug Task Force has been active since the passing of HB 167 in March of 2022.
The Effects of Depression
Depression can affect anyone. If you or a loved one has ever felt the impact of depression, you’re not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that “21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode” in 2020. That number is estimated to be even higher today as the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to take their toll on people around the world.
Sadly, research on depression in the US shows, “The quality of life of most patients with depression is poor”, and “even though effective drug treatment is available, nearly 50% may not initially respond”. The condition also has an alarmingly high rate of suicide.
“Depression accounts for nearly 40,000 cases of suicide each year in the US.”
Knowing how life-threatening depression is, makes it easier to understand why the FDA is expected to approve psilocybin for depression so soon.
How Does Psilocybin Help With Depression?
Johns Hopkins University is a leader in researching the benefits of different psychotherapeutic substances for mental health. A study on psilocybin and depression was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Study participants were given two doses of psilocybin as part of a psychotherapy treatment process.
75% of the study participants saw depression symptom improvement for at least a year after psilocybin-assisted therapy. 58% of participants saw a complete elimination of depression symptoms.
Although the study sample is small, it is positive and in line with other research conclusions on psilocybin and mental health. After seeing the data and knowing psilocybin and other alternative psychotherapeutic drugs could be saving lives, it’s difficult to not feel compassion for those still suffering.
Advances in research on psychedelic therapy are fueling a mainstream awareness of their mental health benefits. Science has already provided enough proof to gain attention from bipartisan lawmakers, as well as spark interest in the corporate sector.
Published just his week in Bloomberg, is an in-depth article on the future of psilocybin medicine in America. The piece details the lengthy history of psychedelics in the United States. Going back to when psychedelics research began in 1938, it covers several key points in history, leading up to where we are today.
What was once perceived as dangerous drugs that could ruin lives, are now being rediscovered as therapeutic substances that could save lives. Considering the prevalence of depression and suicide rates in the United States, they could potentially save the life of someone we love.