The Benefits of Psilocybin Assisted Therapy for Depression
Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness, as well as impair one’s ability to function in daily life. Depression can also increase the risk of suicide and other physical health problems.
While there are effective treatments for depression, such as antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, they are not without limitations. Some people do not respond well to these treatments, or experience unpleasant side effects or relapses. Moreover, these treatments often take a long time to work, or only provide partial relief.
Therefore, there is a need for alternative and innovative approaches to treat depression. One of these approaches is Psilocybin assisted therapy which involves the use of a psychedelic substance called psilocybin in combination with psychological support.
Psilocybin is a natural compound found in some species of mushrooms, commonly known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms”. Psilocybin has been used for centuries by indigenous cultures for spiritual and healing purposes, and more recently, by modern researchers and therapists for its potential to treat various mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psilocybin works by activating serotonin receptors in the brain, which can induce profound changes in perception, cognition, emotion, and sense of self. Psilocybin can also enhance neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form new connections and rewire itself. These effects can lead to lasting positive outcomes, such as increased well-being, creativity, openness, and spiritual awareness.
However, psilocybin is not a magic bullet that can cure all mental illnesses. Psilocybin is a powerful and unpredictable substance that can also cause challenging or adverse reactions, such as confusion, paranoia, anxiety, or psychosis. Therefore, psilocybin should not be taken lightly or without proper guidance and support.
This is where Psilocybin assisted therapy comes in. Psilocybin assisted therapy is a form of psychedelic therapy that involves taking psilocybin in a safe and controlled environment, under the supervision of a trained therapist or facilitator. The therapist helps the patient to prepare for the experience, to navigate the psychedelic journey, and to integrate the insights and lessons learned afterwards.
Psilocybin assisted therapy can be done in different settings, such as clinics, research centers, or retreats. In this article, we will focus on the benefits of doing psilocybin assisted therapy for depression.
The Evidence for Psilocybin Assisted Therapy for Depression
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest and research on the therapeutic uses of psilocybin and other psychedelics for depression. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of psilocybin with moderate to large effect sizes in patients with life-threatening cancer and depressive symptoms, and in patients with major depressive disorder .
For example, a study by Carhart-Harris et al. (2016) involved 12 patients with treatment-resistant depression who received two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg) seven days apart. The results showed that psilocybin produced rapid and sustained reductions in depressive symptoms at one week and three months after treatment. The mean score on the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS) decreased from 19.8 at baseline to 6.0 at one week and 5.4 at three months .
Another study by Davis et al. (2021) involved 24 patients with major depressive disorder who received two doses of psilocybin (20 mg/70 kg) two weeks apart. The results showed that psilocybin produced rapid and significant antidepressant effects at one week and four weeks after treatment. The mean score on the GRID-Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (GRID-HAMD) decreased from 22.8 at baseline to 8.7 at one week and 8.9 at four weeks .
These studies suggest that psilocybin assisted therapy can have rapid and significant antidepressant effects in patients with depression that are comparable or superior to conventional treatments.
The Mechanisms of Psilocybin Assisted Therapy for Depression
How does Psilocybin assisted therapy work for depression? While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood yet, there are some possible explanations based on the current evidence.
One explanation is that psilocybin acts on the serotonin system in the brain, which is involved in mood regulation. Psilocybin may modulate the activity of serotonin receptors in a way that reduces the overactivity of the default mode network (DMN), a brain network that is associated with self-referential thinking, rumination, and negative emotions. By reducing the DMN activity, psilocybin may allow for more flexible and adaptive patterns of brain activity, such as increased connectivity between different brain regions and networks .
Another explanation is that psilocybin induces a mystical or peak experience, which is a state of consciousness characterized by a sense of unity, transcendence, awe, and positive mood. A mystical experience can have profound and lasting effects on one’s psychological well-being, such as increased meaning, purpose, optimism, and spirituality. A mystical experience can also facilitate a positive change in one’s self-concept, such as increased self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-esteem .
A third explanation is that psilocybin enhances the therapeutic alliance and the psychotherapeutic process. Psilocybin may increase one’s openness, trust, empathy, and emotional expression, which can improve the quality of the relationship between the patient and the therapist. Psilocybin may also increase one’s insight, motivation, and readiness for change, which can enhance the effectiveness of the psychological interventions .
These explanations are not mutually exclusive, and they may interact and complement each other to produce the beneficial effects of psilocybin assisted therapy for depression.
The Testimonials of Psilocybin Assisted Therapy for Depression
The scientific evidence for Psilocybin assisted therapy for depression is impressive, but what do the patients themselves say about their experiences? Here are some quotes from the participants of the studies mentioned above:
– “I felt so much lighter afterwards. It was like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
– “I experienced a sense of acceptance I never felt before. I realized that I am not my depression. I am so much more than that.”
– “It was like a switch had been flicked in my brain. I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful in a matter of hours.”
– “I felt a connection with something greater than myself. It was like I was part of a bigger picture. It gave me a new perspective on life.”
– “It was the most profound experience of my life. It changed me in ways I can’t even describe. I feel like a new person.”
– “It was like a reset button for my mind. It cleared away all the negative thoughts and emotions that were holding me back. I feel more alive and free than ever before.”
These quotes illustrate the powerful and positive impact that psilocybin assisted therapy can have on people with depression. They also show the diversity and individuality of the psychedelic experience, which can vary depending on the dose, setting, personality, and expectations of each person.
A promising and innovative form of treatment
Psilocybin assisted therapy is a promising and innovative form of treatment that can help people overcome depression and enhance their well-being and potential. Psilocybin assisted therapy can produce rapid and significant antidepressant effects that are comparable or superior to conventional treatments. Psilocybin assisted therapy can also induce mystical or peak experiences that can have lasting positive effects on one’s psychological well-being, such as increased meaning, purpose, optimism, and spirituality.
Challenges and Limitations
However, Psilocybin assisted therapy is not without challenges and limitations. Psilocybin is still an illegal substance in most countries, which makes it difficult to access and conduct research on it.
As it is legal in the Netherlands, we invite you to research our services to receive this cutting edge Psilocybin assisted therapy for yourself or a loved one.
Psilocybin is also not a magic pill that can cure all mental illnesses. Psilocybin can cause challenging or adverse reactions that require careful screening, preparation, supervision, and integration.
Therefore, Psilocybin assisted therapy should be done only under the guidance of trained professionals who can provide a safe and supportive environment for the patients. Psilocybin assisted therapy should also be tailored to the needs and preferences of each individual patient who can benefit from it.
Psilocybin assisted therapy is a novel and exciting approach to treat depression that deserves more attention and research. Psilocybin assisted therapy can open new doors of perception, understanding, and growth for people who suffer from depression. Are you ready to take the leap?.
Photo by Flora Borsi
Source: Conversation with Bing, 7/29/2023
(1) Effects of Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy on Major Depressive Disorder. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2772630.
(2) Psilocybin-Assisted Compassion Focused Therapy for Depression. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812930/full.
(3) Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/research/psychedelics-research.html.
(4) New Research Supports Psilocybin to Treat Depression – Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/psilocybin-effective-for-depression-a-year-post-treatment-study-finds-5221244.
(5) Psilocybin for Depression: What You Need to Know – Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/psilocybin-for-depression-what-you-need-to-know-5088261.
(6) Psychedelic Quotes – McKenna, Huxley, Fadiman, Grof – Third Wave. https://thethirdwave.co/psychedelic-quotes/.
(7) undefined. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812930.
(8) Getty Images. https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/resident-has-an-operation-growing-psilocybin-mushrooms-news-photo/1229450523.