Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology


Psychological Sciences


Jena Hales


Given the number of people who are treated for depression each year and the knowledge that treatments work differently for everyone, there is a pressing need to provide a variety of treatment options. Although psychedelic research had been halted for a few decades due to recreational abuse, there has been revived interest due to its therapeutic potential in the treatment of mood disorders and addiction. As an example, the hallucinogen ketamine has recently been approved as a treatment for depression, which has opened the door for broadening the discussion on psychedelic research. Although the research is limited, psilocybin mimics ketamine in that it shows promising results as a fast-acting antidepressant—especially when paired with psychotherapy. The rapid onset of relief is a novel characteristic for depression treatment, as traditional antidepressants take 4-6 weeks before taking full effect. Additionally, current antidepressants must be ingested daily, whereas research suggests that just a single treatment of ketamine or psilocybin can provide rapid antidepressant effects. This review will compare the antidepressant potential of the hallucinogens ketamine and psilocybin against the traditional antidepressants, bupropion and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Efficacy and tolerability will be discussed, along with safety and abuse potential. Although more data are needed, current research suggests that ketamine and psilocybin are safe, effective, tolerable, and fast-acting treatments for depression.