Magic Mushrooms in Treating Depression? Here's What You Still Don't Know

Khryss | Published 2018-01-15 22:06

Not convinced? You better read on.

Scientists from Imperial College London, UK, asked 20 patients with moderate to severe depression to have two therapy sessions one week apart, both involving a substance called psilocybin. Psilocybin is the principal psychedelic component in shrooms  which can alter your perception and mood.

MRI scans of these patients were done before and after to look into the drug's effect on the amygdala--the almond-shaped part of the brain that controls emotional responses, stress, and fear. Patients were shown different images that display either neutral, fear, and happiness.

Results showed that patients had heightened activity in the right amygdala in response to images of fearful and happy faces after the treatment, with the increased response to fearful faces compared to neutral faces just after one week of treatment.

Why is that important? Two words: emotional responsiveness.

“Psilocybin-assisted therapy might mitigate depression by increasing emotional connection, this is unlike SSRI antidepressants which are criticized for creating in many people a general emotional blunting,” Leor Roseman, study author and PhD student at Imperial College London, told PsyPost.

 “This suggests fundamental differences in these treatments’ therapeutic actions, with SSRIs mitigating negative emotions and psilocybin allowing patients to confront and work through them,” the study authors explained.

If you're still doubtful, just hear it from some of the patients:

“I felt so much lighter, like something had been released, it was an emotional purging, the weight and anxiety and depression had been lifted,” one said.

Another commented, “I have felt a sense of acceptance; more acceptance of agony, boredom, loneliness. [A] willingness to try to accept the negative times – but also an appreciation of the wonderful times.”

So, is this the road to no more emotional numbing side effects?

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