Psilocybin with psychological support improves emotional face recognition in treatment-resistant depression

J B Stroud, T P Freeman, R Leech, C Hindocha, W Lawn, D J Nutt, H V Curran, R L Carhart-Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

RATIONALE: Depressed patients robustly exhibit affective biases in emotional processing which are altered by SSRIs and predict clinical outcome.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to investigate whether psilocybin, recently shown to rapidly improve mood in treatment-resistant depression (TRD), alters patients' emotional processing biases.

METHODS: Seventeen patients with treatment-resistant depression completed a dynamic emotional face recognition task at baseline and 1 month later after two doses of psilocybin with psychological support. Sixteen controls completed the emotional recognition task over the same time frame but did not receive psilocybin.

RESULTS: We found evidence for a group × time interaction on speed of emotion recognition (p = .035). At baseline, patients were slower at recognising facial emotions compared with controls (p < .001). After psilocybin, this difference was remediated (p = .208). Emotion recognition was faster at follow-up compared with baseline in patients (p = .004, d = .876) but not controls (p = .263, d = .302). In patients, this change was significantly correlated with a reduction in anhedonia over the same time period (r = .640, p = .010).

CONCLUSIONS: Psilocybin with psychological support appears to improve processing of emotional faces in treatment-resistant depression, and this correlates with reduced anhedonia. Placebo-controlled studies are warranted to follow up these preliminary findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-466
Number of pages8
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume235
Issue number2
Early online date30 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

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Psilocybin
Treatment-Resistant Depressive Disorder
Psychology
Anhedonia
Emotions
Facial Recognition
Placebos

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Psilocybin with psychological support improves emotional face recognition in treatment-resistant depression. / Stroud, J B; Freeman, T P; Leech, R; Hindocha, C; Lawn, W; Nutt, D J; Curran, H V; Carhart-Harris, R L.

In: Psychopharmacology, Vol. 235, No. 2, 02.2018, p. 459-466.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Stroud, JB, Freeman, TP, Leech, R, Hindocha, C, Lawn, W, Nutt, DJ, Curran, HV & Carhart-Harris, RL 2018, 'Psilocybin with psychological support improves emotional face recognition in treatment-resistant depression', Psychopharmacology, vol. 235, no. 2, pp. 459-466. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-017-4754-y
Stroud, J B ; Freeman, T P ; Leech, R ; Hindocha, C ; Lawn, W ; Nutt, D J ; Curran, H V ; Carhart-Harris, R L. / Psilocybin with psychological support improves emotional face recognition in treatment-resistant depression. In: Psychopharmacology. 2018 ; Vol. 235, No. 2. pp. 459-466.
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abstract = "RATIONALE: Depressed patients robustly exhibit affective biases in emotional processing which are altered by SSRIs and predict clinical outcome.OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to investigate whether psilocybin, recently shown to rapidly improve mood in treatment-resistant depression (TRD), alters patients' emotional processing biases.METHODS: Seventeen patients with treatment-resistant depression completed a dynamic emotional face recognition task at baseline and 1 month later after two doses of psilocybin with psychological support. Sixteen controls completed the emotional recognition task over the same time frame but did not receive psilocybin.RESULTS: We found evidence for a group × time interaction on speed of emotion recognition (p = .035). At baseline, patients were slower at recognising facial emotions compared with controls (p < .001). After psilocybin, this difference was remediated (p = .208). Emotion recognition was faster at follow-up compared with baseline in patients (p = .004, d = .876) but not controls (p = .263, d = .302). In patients, this change was significantly correlated with a reduction in anhedonia over the same time period (r = .640, p = .010).CONCLUSIONS: Psilocybin with psychological support appears to improve processing of emotional faces in treatment-resistant depression, and this correlates with reduced anhedonia. Placebo-controlled studies are warranted to follow up these preliminary findings.",
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