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How Psilocybin Could Be the Next Big Depression Treatment

Updated: Nov 1, 2022


By: Buz Deliere | October 21, 2022


Magic mushrooms are known for their mind-altering effects, but did you know they can also help heal depression? A recent study found that psilocybin—the compound responsible--rewires the brain's network connections between different regions. This allows those who suffer from chronic sadness or clinical levels of anxiety an opportunity at escape when treated with these powerful fungi spores.


Psilocybin can change your brain in ways that make you feel better and heal mental health conditions.

60 people took part in two trials where researchers scanned their brains before and after they were receiving the medicine, which showed promising results for those with treatment-resistant depression.


The first trial, all the group members were aware that they had ingested magic mushrooms and were considered to have treatment-resistant depression


In the second trial, the group members were not only less depressed than those in the first study but also were not informed if they ingested magic mushrooms or if they were given a placebo, that turned out to be escitalopram, an SSRI antidepressant. Both groups also received the same type of psychotherapy treatment.


After being given psilocybin, the participants' brains showed signs that they were less depressed than those who took escitalopram. The scans also revealed decreased connectivity between certain regions which are closely linked when it comes to mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

The researchers found that psilocybin rewires the brain for up to three weeks after its second dose. This is different than what happened with those who received escitalopram, which strongly suggests that 5-HT2A receptors are key in thought processing affected by this type of psychedelic experience.


Another interesting finding was that study volunteers reported feeling less avoidant compared to before they signed up for the research. They also said their cognitive functioning improved drastically as well, which is an encouraging sign.


It's not yet clear why this happens, but one hypothesis is that the drugs briefly disrupt these connections. giving them a chance to reform in new ways, this can often last several days even weeks. "We don’t yet know how long the changes in brain activity seen with psilocybin therapy last" says Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD, who directs the Neuroscape Psychedelics Division at UCSF and is the senior author of the study.


Carhart-Harris also states “In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we’re seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a carry-over of the acute drug action,”

These types of psychedelics mushrooms are also effective against mental health issues marked by fixed patterns in thinking, which means they may help relieve symptoms associated with these diseases without causing any additional side effects or difficulties during therapy sessions.


The trials were conducted in controlled, clinical conditions with an carefully formulated dose that was given out by laboratories. The participants also had psychological support throughout the entire process of taking part in these studies and after they had finished participating successfully .


The researchers are hopeful that their work will help people with depression, but they warn against using psilocybin for self-medication.


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