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Exploring New Horizons in Bipolar II Treatment: Psilocybin with Psychotherapy

Published:December 61, 2023

A recent study, published on December 6, 2023, titled “Single-Dose Synthetic Psilocybin With Psychotherapy for Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Type II Major Depressive Episodes: A Nonrandomized Controlled Trial,” offers groundbreaking insights into the treatment of Bipolar II disorder (BDII). Authored by Scott T. Aaronson, Andrew van der Vaart, Tammy Miller, and colleagues, this study investigates the efficacy and safety of psilocybin, a compound known for its rapid-acting antidepressant effects, in treating bipolar depression.

Revolutionizing Bipolar II Depression Treatment: The Impact of Psilocybin and Psychotherapy

The article provides concise overview of the study and its potential impact on the treatment of Bipolar II disorder. It highlights the innovative approach of combining psilocybin with psychotherapy, offering hope for those struggling with this challenging condition.

The Challenge of Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is often characterized by depressive episodes that are difficult to treat. Traditional pharmacologic treatments sometimes fall short in providing relief, necessitating the exploration of alternative therapies.

The Study’s Approach

Conducted at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, this 12-week, open-label trial involved participants aged 18 to 65 years with BDII, who were experiencing a depressive episode lasting over three months and had shown insufficient benefit from at least two pharmacologic treatments. The intervention included a single dose of 25 mg synthetic psilocybin. Importantly, participants discontinued other psychotropic medications two weeks prior to dosing. The treatment was complemented by psychotherapy sessions before, during, and after the dosing day.

Measuring the Outcomes

The primary outcome was the change in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating scale (MADRS) at 3 weeks posttreatment. Secondary measures included subsequent MADRS scores, the self-rated Quick Inventory of Depression Symptoms-Self Rating (QIDS-SR), and the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire-Short Form (Q-LES-Q-SF). Safety was also a key focus, monitored through scales like the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (CSSRS) and the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS).

Promising Results

The results were striking. All participants showed significant improvement in MADRS scores at week 3, indicating a substantial reduction in depressive symptoms. This suggests that synthetic psilocybin, combined with psychotherapy, could be a potent treatment for those with treatment-resistant BDII.

Implications and Future Directions

This study opens new avenues for treating BDII, particularly for those who have not responded to traditional treatments. It underscores the potential of psilocybin as a therapeutic tool, especially when integrated with psychotherapy. However, as with any pioneering research, further studies are needed to validate these findings and explore long-term effects.


Aaronson, S. T., van der Vaart, A., Miller, T., LaPratt, J., Swartz, K., Shoultz, A., Lauterbach, M., Sackeim, H. A., & Suppes, T. (2023). Single-Dose Synthetic Psilocybin With Psychotherapy for Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Type II Major Depressive Episodes: A Nonrandomized Controlled Trial. JAMA Psychiatry.

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