HealthDay News – Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy may promote long-term benefits in terms of reductions in anxiety, depression, and hopelessness among patients with cancer-related psychiatric distress, according to a study published online Jan. 9 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Gabrielle I. Agin-Liebes, from Palo Alto University in California, and colleagues conducted a long-term within-subjects follow-up analysis involving 16 participants in a trial evaluating single-dose psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in cancer-related psychiatric distress, 15 of whom agreed to participate at an average of 3.2 and 4.5 years following psilocybin administration.

The researchers found that at the first and second follow-up periods, reductions in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization, and death anxiety were sustained. Large within-group effects were seen. The criteria for clinically significant antidepressant or anxiolytic responses were met by 60 to 80% of participants at the 4.5-year follow-up. Positive life changes were overwhelmingly attributed to psilocybin-assisted therapy experience (71 to 100%); it was rated as among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of patients’ lives.

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“It would be an historic and important milestone if the National Institutes of Health were to fund advanced research exploring the therapeutic potential of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in patients with life-threatening cancer and concomitant psychiatric and existential distress,” the authors write.

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