Would you have ever thought that the hallucinogenic drug Psilocybin, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms” could help cure you of depression? Probably not. Although I have never tried them to treat my depression, there seems to be mounting scientific evidence in support of Psilocybin as a treatment option for cases of treatment-resistant depression. These days so many scientists are still stuck on the “serotonin hypothesis” – thinking that in people with depression, there are significantly lower levels of serotonin.
The common treatment for depression involves SSRI’s or selective-serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. These prevent the re-uptake of serotonin so that it stays in the brain longer. The only problem with these medications is that they just don’t work, period. When nothing works to treat depression, sometimes you have to look at alternative treatment options. I am a firm believer that there is a treatment out there for everyone to get better and heal when faced with depression.
Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) for Depression Research
In a recent study, Studerus et al. took a look at how psilocybin affected healthy individuals. They discussed that the mushrooms that produce psilocybin are grown naturally throughout the world. These mushrooms have been used in tribal rituals and for exploration of consciousness throughout history.
- 1960s, 1970s research: Demonstrated that psilocybin acted for 4 to 6 hours and can produce both illusions and hallucinations. It was said to enhance emotional responses and the ability for introspection. It also activated vivid memories.
- 1980s research: There was less research conducted throughout the 1980s on psilocybin for medical purposes. Things eventually picked back up by the early 90s.
- 1990s to 2010 research: Between 1990 and 2010, a variety of research had been conducted using psilocybin for depression.
Of 110 healthy participants who received 1 to 4 doses of psilocybin, a majority of them recorded experiencing major (positive) changes in “mood, perception, thought, and self-experience” – which was induced by the psilocybin. Most people had a both a pleasurable and enriched experience in the study.
Some individuals did report negative experiences that included: anxiety, dysphoria, and panic. However, this only was reported by a small number of participants that received the “highest” dosages.
Between 8 and 16 months following the psilocybin study, participants were contacted for interviews. It seems as though 25% of these participants reported positive changes in relationships with others. Only 7% of participants reported a negative overall change.
Griffiths et al. Psilocybin Study (2006)
They performed multiple trials of psilocybin in hallucinogen-native healthy people who participated in religious and/or spiritual practices. This study involved a placebo and other psychoactive drugs in order to determine the impact and effects of the psilocybin.
Most participants reported the experience taking the psilocybin as having “substantial personal meaning” and spiritual significance. They attributed the experience to their positive change in mood and attitude. This was 2 months following the experience.
At 14 months following the experience, most participants rated the psilocybin experience as the most meaningful and significant experience of their life. They felt as though it increased their overall life satisfaction and general wellbeing.
Family members and friends also were called in for reporting and researchers found that reports from family and friends were congruent with what the participants reported.
How Psilocybin affects personality test ratings…
It was found that taking psilocybin did not affect the NEO Personality Inventory in areas of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, or conscientiousness. However, it did increase ratings of “openness.” These increases in “openness” were reported to be as a result of having a mystical experience.
Grob et al. (2011) also did a study of 12 patients with advanced-stage cancer using psilocybin. The psilocybin was found to significantly decrease anxiety following 3 months of treatment and improved mood 6 months later. No significantly adverse effects were reported.
Should you use Psilocybin for depression?
Obviously it’s not yet an approved substance for the treatment of depression by the FDA. However, if you have tried SSRI’s and experienced the hell that those can induce, you may wonder how the hell something like magic mushrooms, a natural substance is not yet approved. If you are curious about finding more information related to psilocybin, do some reading on PubMed.gov. There are currently more clinical trials in progress with psilocybin to assess whether it will become a viable treatment option in cases of depression.
Most preliminary studies suggest that magic mushrooms work to treat depression by inducing a mystical, introspective experience within the user. This experience is evidently powerful enough to change mood, and induce a more positive, open outlook towards life. Sounds like a miracle right? More studies currently need to be conducted before people with depression will be able to “legally” try this treatment. Have you ever tried psilocybin? Did it help your mood? Feel free to share your experience and/or thoughts below.