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Classic serotonergic psychedelics for mood and depressive symptoms: a meta-analysis of mood disorder patients and healthy participants

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-28, 22:04 authored by NL Galvão-Coelho, Wolfgang MarxWolfgang Marx, M Gonzalez, J Sinclair, M de Manincor, D Perkins, J Sarris
© 2021, The Author(s). Rationale: Major depressive disorder is one of the leading global causes of disability, for which the classic serotonergic psychedelics have recently reemerged as a potential therapeutic treatment option. Objective: We present the first meta-analytic review evaluating the clinical effects of classic serotonergic psychedelics vs placebo for mood state and symptoms of depression in both healthy and clinical populations (separately). Results: Our search revealed 12 eligible studies (n = 257; 124 healthy participants, and 133 patients with mood disorders), with data from randomized controlled trials involving psilocybin (n = 8), lysergic acid diethylamide ([LSD]; n = 3), and ayahuasca (n = 1). The meta-analyses of acute mood outcomes (3 h to 1 day after treatment) for healthy volunteers and patients revealed improvements with moderate significant effect sizes in favor of psychedelics, as well as for the longer-term (16 to 60 days after treatments) mood state of patients. For patients with mood disorder, significant effect sizes were detected on the acute, medium (2–7 days after treatment), and longer-term outcomes favoring psychedelics on the reduction of depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Despite the concerns over unblinding and expectancy, the strength of the effect sizes, fast onset, and enduring therapeutic effects of these psychotherapeutic agents encourage further double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing them for management of negative mood and depressive symptoms.


NLGC is supported by Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior -Brasil (Capes) (Finance code: 001/Research Fellowship 88887.466701/2019-00) and National Science and Technology Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM Fapesp 2014/50891-1; CNPq 465458/2014-9). JS is supported by an NHMRC Clinical Research Fellowship (APP1125000). WM is supported by an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia early career fellowship.


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(p. 341-354)


Springer Nature



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