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Psilocybin, psychological distress, and suicidality

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Abstract

Hendricks et al. (2015) found that having ever used any classic psychedelic substance—namely, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ayahuasca, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, peyote or San Pedro, or psilocybin—was associated with a significantly reduced likelihood of past month psychological distress (weighted OR = .81 (.72–.91)), past year suicidal thinking (weighted OR = .86 (.78–.94)), past year suicidal planning (weighted OR = .71 (.54–.94)), and past year suicide attempt (weighted OR = .64 (.46–.89)) in the United States adult population. Although these findings comport with an emerging literature suggesting classic psychedelics may be effective in the treatment of mental health conditions and prevention of self-harm, they do not speak to the potential risk profile or therapeutic applications of psilocybin in particular, which is the most commonly examined classic psychedelic in contemporary clinical research. Considering that psilocybin may be a candidate for future approved medical use in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other nations (Bogenschutz et al., 2015; Grob et al., 2011; Johnson et al., 2014; see also Nutt et al., 2013), an analysis of the specific relationships of psilocybin use with psychological distress and suicidality may help inform decisions by the United States Food and Drug Administration and regulatory bodies of other nations. The objectives of the current research, therefore, were to extend the analysis of Hendricks et al. (2015) by evaluating the associations of lifetime psilocybin use, per se, with past month psychological distress, past year suicidal thinking, past year suicidal planning, and past year suicide attempt in the United States adult population.

Hendricks, P. S., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2015). Psilocybin, psychological distress, and suicidality. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(9), 1041-1043. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881115598338
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