Research Highlights: Comparison Between Psilocybin (Magic Mushroom) and Escitalopram as an Antidepressant

By Alan Rockefeller – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Comparison Between Psilocybin (Magic Mushroom) and Escitalopram as an Antidepressant

  • Psilocybin, also known as magic mushroom, is a compound obtained from certain types of hallucinogenic mushrooms found in Mexico, South America, and some parts of the United States.[1]
  • Psilocybin may have antidepressant properties however, comparisons between psilocybin and known treatments for depression are lacking.
  • In patients with moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder, researchers compared psilocybin with escitalopram.
  • Escitalopram is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.[2]
  • Total number of patients enrolled: 59
  • Patients assigned to psilocybin group: 30
  • Patients assigned to escitalopram group: 29
  • All patients received psychological support.
  • The results suggest that psilocybin and escitalopram did not show a significant difference in antidepressant effects.
  • Secondary outcomes usually favored psilocybin compared with escitalopram however, these analyses lacked correction for multiple comparisons.
  • To compare psilocybin with known antidepressants, larger and longer trials are needed.


Carhart-Harris R, Giribaldi B, Watts R, Baker-Jones M, Murphy-Beiner A, Murphy R, Martell J, Blemings A, Erritzoe D, Nutt DJ. Trial of Psilocybin versus Escitalopram for Depression. N Engl J Med. 2021 Apr 15;384(15):1402-1411. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2032994. PMID: 33852780.



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