Insight Conference
Tommaso Barba, M.Sc.
6:05pm - 7:05pm


Comparative Effects of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram on Rumination and Thought Suppression in Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most common affective disorder, and it is a global health concern, expected to become even a bigger global issue due to the impact of the current coronavirus pandemic. The clinical presentation of this mood disorder includes prominent markers of rigid and inflexible thinking like rumination and dysfunctional ways of dealing with one’s emotions like active suppression of disturbing intrusive thoughts. The present study sought to assess the comparative effect of the common selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram and of the psychedelic drug psilocybin on rumination and suppression of negative thoughts in MDD. It was found that patients treated with psilocybin exhibited a significant decrease in both ruminative and suppressive tendencies while patients treated with escitalopram did not. Nevertheless, the significant decrease in rumination in the psilocybin group did not appear to be a therapeutic mechanism specific to psilocybin, considering that those patients who did respond to escitalopram (indicated by a 50% drop in depressive symptom scores) also presented a significant decrease in rumination. On the other hand, the decrease in thought suppression did emerge as a specific mechanism seen in response to psilocybin treatment, but not escitalopram, where suppression remained high even in those who did fulfil criteria for response. Moreover, the decreases in rumination/suppression in the psilocybin group were found to be linked to the degree of ego dissolution experienced and the degree of psychological insights gained during the experience and successive integration. Implications for these findings will be discussed



Tommaso Barba, M.Sc.

Centre of Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London
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