New Studies on How Psychedelics Can Relieve Symptoms in Major Depression

Mental health is a hot conversation piece as of late, and for good reason. Depression and anxiety rates have increased, leading to an uptake in the interest of mental health wellness. 

People are looking into various treatments, researching conventional and alternative treatments alike. One alternative treatment is psychedelic (entheogenic) drug therapy.

Psychedelics and Mental Health

As intrigue over mushrooms’ wellness benefits grows, so has a public fascination with psychedelics. Of particular interest is the emerging field of psychedelics and mental health. A few recent studies highlight the potential of psychedelic treatment for depressive symptoms.

John Hopkins Medicine

In a small study on the psychedelic treatment of adults with major depression, researchers from John Hopkins Medicine have reported a relief in the participants’ depressive symptoms.

Over two weeks, researchers administered two psilocybin doses to the participants. Each psychedelic treatment lasted about five hours per session. The researchers also had the participants attend therapy for extra support. 

The results were surprising and showed promise. The psychedelics’ effects on participants had a positive net worth. Out of the 24 participants, 67% show a decrease of 50% in their depressive symptoms at the one-week follow-up. At the four-week follow-up, that number grew to 71%.

A follow-up study was conducted on the same group a year after the initial psilocybin treatment. The study showed that paired with psychotherapy, the psychedelics’ effects on major depressive symptoms have been shown to potentially last up to at least a year.

UC San Francisco and Imperial College London

Recent studies from UC San Francisco and Imperial College London have shown the effects of psychedelics and depression as well. 

Using fMRI brain imaging, scientists analyzed the structural changes of almost 60 participants in a psilocybin drug therapy study. Brain scans were done before and after psilocybin treatment and psychotherapy, and the results were astonishing.

The fMRI imagery reveals that the depressed brain has deeply-formed grooves within the neural connections. These deep “wells” in the brain encourage rigid thinking, rumination, and other depressive symptoms. Post-psilocybin treatment has shown a “flattening” of such. This suggests that psychedelics have the potential to encourage flexibility in thought patterns. 

Using psychotherapy alongside psilocybin, participants showed an improvement in cognitive functioning. They were also less emotionally avoidant. A hypothesis on why this occurred is that certain psychedelics have the power to disrupt old brain connections and create new ones.

As more research on psychedelics and mental health emerges, our knowledge of these entheogenic mushrooms will increase. Psychedelic drug treatments could someday be used as a standard treatment for depression and other mental health issues.

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