Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Psychedelic Drug Trial: A Cure for Depression? (02:41)


A significant number of people living with depression report no benefits from antidepressants. British researchers will compare the effects of a leading antidepressant versus magic mushrooms.

Double-Blind Clinical Trial (03:38)

The trial involves 59 participants with long-term depression and compares the effects of escitalopram and psilocybin. Researchers include Prof. David Nutt, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, and Dr. Ros Watts.

Trial Participants: Steve and Ali (05:18)

Steve has lived with depression for 25 years and was on antidepressants for over a decade. Antidepressants can have unpleasant side effects. Ali has been on antidepressants for 12 years. Her depression has worsened, and the trial represents a lifeline.

Drug Trial Start (07:15)

Participants stop medications six weeks before the trial begins. Day one is preparation day, day two is dosing day, and day three is an integration session. Ali describes her experience. Psychedelics work on 2A receptors.

Default Mode Network (03:43)

Psilocybin disrupts the network, deactivating the sense of self. Daydreaming can be negatively focused and damaging for depressed people. Steve describes his first dosing session.

Trial Participants: Mat and Others (05:27)

Mat reflects on carrying a heavy burden and trial expectations. He describes prep day and his first psilocybin dosing experience. Joe, Ruth, and Leonie describe revelatory experiences.

Trial Participants: Nadine and Others (05:18)

Nadine's drawings reflect her depression and anxieties; making decisions can be difficult. Her dosing experience produces no noticeable effects; she is part of the escitalopram group. Participants discuss using antidepressants.

Data and Second Dosing (03:51)

Researchers use standardized scores and patient-related outcomes to compare the effects of escitalopram and psilocybin on depression. Mat describes his second dosing experience and current mental health.

Trial Participants: Ali (04:43)

Ali has been off of antidepressants for two months when she undergoes her second dosing of psilocybin. She describes her experience.

Trial Outcomes (05:08)

Some participants, including Steve, experience positive effects lasting over six months. Nadine continues to take escitalopram and is now better able to make decisions. Carhart-Harris and Nutt review the full data set from the trial and discuss the results.

Participant Updates (02:51)

Ali discusses returning to work after trial completion; her depression is more manageable. Watts hopes for accessible psilocybin therapeutic programs. Steve and Mat believe psilocybin is a positive way forward. Nadine continues to take escitalopram.

Credits: The Psychedelic Drug Trial: A Cure for Depression? (00:31)

Credits: The Psychedelic Drug Trial: A Cure for Depression?

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The Psychedelic Drug Trial: A Cure for Depression?

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This documentary offers exclusive access to a ground-breaking new trial at Imperial College London. The trial sees, for the first time ever, and under controlled conditions, a psychedelic drug tested head-to-head against a standard antidepressant as a treatment for depression. The film follows a pioneering team of scientists and psychotherapists, led by Professor David Nutt, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, and Dr Rosalind Watts, as they compare the effects of psilocybin (the active ingredient of magic mushrooms) with an antidepressant (an SSRI called escitalopram) on a small group of participants with clinical depression. This is scientific research at its most cutting-edge. With over seven million people being prescribed antidepressants each year in England alone, this drug trial is an important milestone in understanding a completely different treatment for depression. Filmed over 16 months, this film explores both the immediate and long-term impacts of the trial on the lives of participants. It investigates whether psychedelic drugs combined with psychological support could help tackle one of the biggest medical challenges faced today and what it takes to conduct research in uncharted scientific territory. How do psychedelic drugs measure up against the industry-standard antidepressants that have been popular since the 1990s? The empirical results of the trial are explored alongside the participants' powerful lived experience.

Length: 51 minutes

Item#: BVL276578

ISBN: 978-1-63722-909-5

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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