Psilocybin relieves anxiety and depression in advanced cancer patients

Cancer is one of those diseases that cripples hope and kills the patient’s will to live. Probably, that is the reason why with cancer comes anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology  in December 2016, reported clinically significant anxiety and/or depressive symptoms are prevalent among 30-40 percent patients in hospital settings. Furthermore, these symptoms have detrimental effects on the overall treatment outcome due to problems like medication non-adherence, poor quality of life, reduced social activity, increased pain, higher medical costs, increased disability, increased desire for hastened death, hopelessness, increased rates of suicide and decreased survival rates.

To minimize the health problems associated with comorbid depression and anxiety in cancer patients, researchers are relentlessly involved in finding treatment plans to alleviate clinical symptoms of such mental disorders. The latest research has found a method to help patients with advanced cancer get relief from anxiety and depression. According to the study led by researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, a single moderate dose of psilocybin in combination with psychotherapy can help produce antidepressant effects in patients with cancer-related psychological anxiety and distress.

Psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms

Psilocybin is a tryptamine hallucinogenic substance extracted from some specific types of mushrooms. It has an ability to stimulate body’s serotonin receptors in the brain areas involved in cognition, mood and perception. Psilocybin produces its hallucinogenic effect within 20-30 minutes of ingestion, which lasts up to four to six hours.

The study suggested that a single moderate dose of psilocybin, in combination with psychotherapy, might help in reducing anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer. The findings are novel in the view that a single dose of a medication produces rapid and robust antidepressant and anxiolytic effects that can last for up to weeks and months. “Our results represent the strongest evidence to date of a clinical benefit from psilocybin therapy, with the potential to transform care for patients with cancer-related psychological distress,” said Stephen Ross, M.D., director of substance abuse services in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone.

Psilocybin was found to be delivering as high as approximately 80 percent antidepressant response rates at 6.5 months follow-up. Furthermore, psilocybin brought a significant decrease in cancer-related demoralization like desire for hastened death and loss of meaning/hope/purpose while bettering spiritual well-being, quality of life, and general life satisfaction. In addition to relieving depressive symptoms, psilocybin also scored on safety standard as researchers did not report any serious adverse effects in their trial – neither medical nor psychiatric.

“If larger clinical trials prove successful, then we could ultimately have available a safe, effective, and inexpensive medication — dispensed under strict control — to alleviate the distress that increases suicide rates among cancer patients,” Ross added. However, the researchers were very particular about the use of psilocybin. They cautioned patients not to self-medicate and to consume psilocybin only under the supervision of a physician and a trained counselor. They emphasized that psilocybin therapy may not be appropriate for everybody’s use. Some people like adolescents and people with schizophrenia should not use it.

Treating anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression, common in cancer patients, can adversely affect the treatment outcome of cancer. Therefore, cancer patients need proper care and psychotherapy to respond better and recover faster from cancer.

If you or your loved one is battling anxiety or any other mental disorder, contact the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California. We can help you find good mental health treatment centers in California and suggest best available treatment options for people facing mental health problems like anxiety. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online for more information. One should not delay treatment or things can get out of hand.

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