Patient responses…. after years of unsuccessful treatment with standard drugs, are spurring a gradual — and, some would say, overdue — shift in psychiatry toward a new way of thinking about depression, its causes, and therapies. The profession’s long embrace of the “monoamine hypothesis” — the idea that depression primarily results from abnormal levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain and that drugs can restore the proper balance — is giving way to a more complex understanding and alternative treatments, from ketamine to psychedelics to magnetic stimulation.
Along with ketamine, other psychedelics, like psilocybin, have emerged as candidates for treatment-resistant depression. A small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April showed that psilocybin was as effective as a common antidepressant drug.
The psychedelic market is seen as so potentially lucrative that half a dozen companies in that space have gone public this year. Cybin, which has a psilocybin formulation in a Phase 2 clinical trial for major depression, started selling shares on the New York Stock Exchange last week, and five other psychedelics companies are already listed on the Nasdaq.
While the paradigms surrounding psychiatry seem to be shifting, new drugs and treatments still have a long road to approval and widespread use.