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Mushroom therapy for depression and anxiety

Updated: Apr 24

How psilocybin helps with depression and anxiety.



If you’ve been looking up psychedelic therapies, you’re probably aware that psilocybin mushrooms hold great promise in the treatment of depression and anxiety. But how exactly does psilocybin work to help alleviate these conditions?

 

Psilocybin for Depression

Scientific studies have shown that psilocybin – the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms –  help neurons in your brain create new connections which can decrease symptoms of depression. When we are depressed, we engage in thoughts that maintain or worsen our low moods or sense of hopelessness. In the brain, these thoughts translate to neurons firing and connecting with each other in an established pattern – like a neural route or map – which then creates what we experience as the repeated emotional and attitudinal response of depression. Psilocybin, which acts of the serotonergic system (neuroreceptors in our brains that are responsible for mood regulation), encourages the temporary disintegration of these established depression-related neural patterns, so your brain gets the chance to create new networks, which may promote more positive and uplifting thoughts and emotional responses. The brain’s ability to make new neural connections is referred to as neuroplasticity. By encouraging neuroplasticity, psilocybin therapy creates an ideal condition for deep learning, which can help someone struggling with depression experience powerful, lasting emotional, perceptual, and attitudinal change. This deep learning facilitates a shift from a despairing state of mind to one of hopefulness and optimism.  

 

Psilocybin for Anxiety

Psilocybin mushrooms when used in a therapeutic setting has also been shown to facilitate fear reduction, to decrease neuroticism, and to increase extraversion and openness to new experiences. One study showed that mice given psilocybin overcame their fear conditioning better mice that were given a placebo. Psilocybin therapy has been shown to be particularly beneficial for individuals who have anxiety related to cancer or other terminal illness diagnosis. Research found that around 80 percent of individuals with terminal illness related anxiety saw reductions in their anxiety that continued for up to 4.5 years. How exactly psilocybin reduces anxiety is unclear, but scientists suspect that psilocybin’s effect on memories, emotions, and the serotonin system improve the dysregulated response to stress that is present in anxiety-related conditions. The personality shifts from neurotic, introverted, and timid, to more flexible, sociable, and open could be attributed to psilocybin increasing activity in the neural areas of the brain associated with feelings of connection with others, and that all can be well.


By Michele Koh Morollo, NUMEN NoSC Therapies

 

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