Treating Depression With Psilocybin When Combined with Psychotherapy

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Mental health illness like depression is a serious issue that should be addressed immediately as it is one of the prime causes of ill health and suicides worldwide. There are standard treatments like antidepressants and psychotherapy that can be effective for treating depression.

Treatment-resistant depression

However, sometimes depression doesn’t get better even with proper treatment. Almost one-third of the people suffering from depression do not get relief from the antidepressant medications that they are trying. This develops into Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) when individuals do not respond to at least two kinds of antidepressant medications.

Fortunately, there has been a recent development in the use of the substance psilocybin for individuals who find it difficult to treat depression. Psilocybin is found in numerous varieties of mushrooms which are often referred to as “magic mushrooms” as it produces psychedelic effects.

Psilocybin causes sensory hallucinations and euphoric feelings that can linger for several hours after ingestion. According to some studies, psilocybin when combined with psychotherapy can work as an effective treatment for certain mental health illnesses, mainly depression. This is known as psychedelic therapy.

What is psychedelic therapy?

Psychedelic therapy uses plants and chemicals like psilocybin from “magic mushrooms “that might cause hallucinations for treating mental health conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In most cases, doctors use this form of therapy on individuals who were not able to respond well to standard therapies or medications. Psychedelics are said to provide relief to such individuals from certain symptoms of depression which regular therapies have failed to provide.

How does a psychedelic session work?

Psychedelic therapy is carried out in a safe and relaxing environment under the supervision of a medical professional where the individual takes low doses of psilocybin. The therapist then works with the individual to carry out the psychedelic session. The aim is to help the individual in processing and understand what they have just gone through.

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Effects of psilocybin

The effects of psilocybin relax the senses and give a euphoric feeling. The compound works on the brain neurotransmitter that involves the use of serotonin. People usually feel the common experience of hallucination after taking psilocybin which is caused due to an increase in communication between various brain networks.

Researchers conclude that this feeling contributes to the antidepressant effects of psilocybin. Change in brain connections and creating new ones might help individuals in breaking out from depressive pattern.

People taking psilocybin may experience effects like:

  • Euphoria
  • Change in perception like altered place or time.
  • Hallucinations
  • Highly spiritual feeling
  • Experiencing being introspective.

How does psychedelic therapy work?

Psilocybin therapy is said to offer immediate improvement to individuals suffering from mental health conditions. While traditional antidepression medications usually take several weeks to work or may even work till the person takes them, one single dose of psilocybin is said to show better results.

  • They are said to cause psychedelic or mystical experiences which shift the person’s mindset causing them to think or act differently.
  • Psychedelic drugs act on neurotransmitters changing the person’s mood and behaviour.
  • People taking psychedelic drugs become more responsive and respond to their therapist positively.

Potential benefits of psychedelic therapy

Read on for some of the potential benefits of psychedelic therapy.

Reduces anxiety and depression

There have been reports of a significant reduction in cases of anxiety, depression, and stress due to the psychedelic experience after taking psilocybin. It improves mental health, imparts the feeling of self-compassion, and makes individuals feel optimistic by removing negative thoughts.

Reduces anxiety due to terminal illnesses

People facing serious and deadly illnesses go through extreme anxiety about future consequences. Psychedelic therapy is said to provide relief from anxiety and depression accompanied by this dreadful fear. A single dose of psilocybin mushrooms reduces symptoms of anxiety, hopelessness, and depression significantly in people going through cancer treatment.

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)

The psychedelic effects of psilocybin are said to reduce depressive symptoms due to the impact of trauma.

Eases addiction

Psychedelic therapy is also said to reduce certain addiction symptoms, which may help people to quit drinking.

Psychedelic drugs containing psilocybin can induce strong, powerful, and improved psychological changes in an individual suffering from depression. Working with a therapist aids the person in processing and making sense of their psychedelic experience in a way that could have long-term positive effects on their mental health.

Jacques Bedard