Tag: psilocybin

Reading of the Week: Amphetamines & ED Visits – the New CJP Paper; Also, Psilocybin for Depression (QT) and Anti-NMDAR Encephalitis (CMAJ)

From the Editor

Agitated, excited, violent – when intoxicated. But my patient is also pleasant and engaging when not using substance (crystal methamphetamine).

Amphetamine use seems more and more common. What does the data show? In a new paper for The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, James A. G. Crispo (of the University of British Columbia) and his co-authors look at amphetamine-related ED visits in Ontario. Drawing on administrative databases, they find a sharp rise over time: a 15-fold increase between 2003 and 2020. They write: “Increasing rates of amphetamine-related ED visits in Ontario are cause for concern.”

In the second selection, Dr. Ishrat Husain (of the University of Toronto) comments on psilocybin and depression in a new Quick Takes podcast. He goes into detail on the new NEJM study – which he co-authored. Dr. Husain discusses the literature and unanswered research questions. “It’s not necessarily all sunshine and rainbows.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Candace Marsters (of the University of Alberta) and her colleagues consider the unusual presentation of young adult with first-episode psychosis in a new paper for CMAJ. With time and diagnostic testing, they conclude that she has anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis, and offer observations about that diagnosis and the limitations of testing. “Anti-NMDAR encephalitis is a rare but important differential diagnosis of first-episode psychosis among young adults.”


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Reading of the Week: Psilocybin for Treatment-Refractory Depression – the New NEJM Paper

From the Editor

“Severe depression eased by single dose of synthetic ‘magic mushroom’”

– CNN, 3 November 2022

For its proponents, psilocybin could be the breakthrough we have been waiting for in depression treatment. For its critics, psilocybin lacks evidence.

What to make of psilocybin? Dr. Guy M. Goodwin (of the University of Oxford) and his co-authors attempt to answer that question with a phase 2 double blind trial focused on those with treatment-resistant depression, offering participants psilocybin at three different doses, in addition to therapy. The resulting paper was just published in The New England Journal of Medicine and has received much attention (including, yes, coverage by CNN). They find: “participants with treatment-resistant depression, psilocybin at a single dose of 25 mg, but not 10 mg, reduced depression scores significantly more than a 1-mg dose over a period of 3 weeks but was associated with adverse effects.” 

The future of depression treatment?

We discuss the big paper and the review the accompanying Editorial by Bertha K. Madras (of Harvard University). We also have comments from Dr. Ishrat Husain (of the University of Toronto), one of the study co-authors.

So does psilocybin offer a breakthrough? Read on and decide for yourself.

(Note that there will be no Reading next week.)


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Reading of the Week: How Has Mental Health Changed Over COVID? Also, Goldbloom on Practice & the Pandemic (Globe) and a Reader Responds to Psilocybin

From the Editor

Even our language has changed. Last winter, we didn’t think about lockdowns and the term social distancing was confined to sociology textbooks. The world is different.

And in our new reality, we can ask: How has the pandemic affected mental health? While there have been many small surveys (and much speculation), until now we have lacked a major, large scale survey.

This week, we look at a new paper from The Lancet Psychiatry. Matthias Pierce (of the University of Manchester) and his co-authors draw on the UK Household Longitudinal Study – a large, national survey that offers us pandemic and pre-pandemic data. The good news: “Between April and October 2020, the mental health of most UK adults remained resilient or returned to pre-pandemic levels…” but they also found that one in nine people in the UK “had deteriorating or consistently poor mental health.” We consider the big study and discuss resilience with an essay by Dr. Richard A. Friedman (of Cornell University).


In the second selection, we consider an essay by Dr. David Goldbloom (of the University of Toronto) on how the pandemic has changed psychiatry. He focuses on the biggest change: that is, the embrace of virtual care. He begins: “We are all telepsychiatrists now…” He notes the advantages and disadvantages of the transformation. While some providers express ambivalence, he writes: “What counts, ultimately, is what helps our patients.”

Finally, a reader responds to our take on The New England Journal of Medicine paper on psilocybin. Dr. Craig P. Stewart (of Western University) writes: “One area I did not see mentioned in the psilocybin paper review was a discussion of confirmation bias, which I believe also should be mentioned to contextualize the results.”


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Reading of the Week: Psilocybin for Depression – The New NEJM Paper

From the Editor

Is this the breakthrough we have been waiting for?

This week, we look at the new study from The New England Journal of Medicine considering psilocybin (a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in some mushrooms) and escitalopram for depression. The paper, written by Robin Carhart-Harris (of Imperial College) and his co-authors, has received much attention. One online news source quipped: “Tripping may be as effective as your antidepressants.”

In this study, psilocybin was compared to the SSRI with a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Carhart-Harris et al. find: “On the basis of the change in depression scores on the QIDS-SR-16 at week 6, this trial did not show a significant difference in antidepressant effects between psilocybin and escitalopram in a selected group of patients.”


We consider the paper and the editorial that runs with it by Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman (of Columbia University). We also ask Dr. Ishrat Husain (of the University of Toronto) for his thoughts. Finally, we mention other cutting-edge treatments.


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