Psilocybin (magic compound), the psychedelic compound found in mushrooms, helps to “open up” the depressed people’s brains, even after use, enabling brain regions to talk more freely to one another.
Psilocybin is one of the members of psychedelic being explored as a potential therapy for psychiatric disorders. Several studies have tried a synthesized form of the drug to treat patients with depression and anxiety, with promising results.
The findings published in the journal Nature Medicine, are promising advance for psilocybin therapy, with the effects replicated across two studies. Studies explain that patterns of brain activity can become rigid and restricted in depression, and that psilocybin could potentially help the brain to break out of this rut in a way that could not be done by traditional therapies.
Fig. Illustration of schematics trial design adopted
In the latest study, a team led by Imperial’s Centre for Psychedelic Research analyzed fMRI scans of participants from these two trials, which included almost 60 participants. All participants also received talking therapies with registered mental health professionals and brain scans were taken before, and then one day or three weeks after participants received psilocybin therapy.
The researcher caution that while these findings are encouraging, previous trials assessing psilocybin for depression took place under controlled, clinical conditions, using a regulated dose formulated in a laboratory, and involved extensive psychological support before, during and after dosing, provided by mental health professionals.
Patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate with psilocybin, as taking magic mushrooms or psilocybin in the absence of these careful safeguards may not have a positive outcome.
- Daws, R.E., Timmermann, C., Giribaldi, B. et al. Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression. Nat Med (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-01744-z