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Psilocybin vs. SSRI, Is it a Win?

Gentle critique of the hot new science: It's the big study we been waiting for, SSRIs vs psychedelic-assisted therapy.

The results? A tie. But is that the whole story?

Science is good at measuring 1 thing at a time, bad at seeing the bigger picture and bad at replicating real-world situations. With enough trials and researchers, eventually science sees a bigger picture, but it takes a while.

So that's why I like to mention the limitations of a study rather than just the headline. Research headlines are really misleading, they are extremely circumstantial conclusions but we are so used to generalizing them the way we do with other news..

The main one here is that it was a 6-week study, just enough time to get over the SSRI effectiveness hump where the side effects start to wain and the symptom-suppressive effects kick in. But one can imagine the journey of "long-standing, moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder" is not well understood within 6 weeks. Questions to consider might be, how long are the antidepressant effects sustained? How much long-term dependency on the treatments are there? Are there long-term side effects?

Also not measured in this study are the many factors at play in a person's quality of life. This study used a 16-question test of depression symptoms. Psychedelics don't just change depression, they change a little of everything.

The researchers know this, it was not the intention of this study to go beyond what was done, so no disrespect. It's just to show science headlines are not always what they seem.

The next step from here will be longer studies, so hold out for another few years or however long it takes to raise tens of millions of dollars... 😴


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