Those suffering from severe depression do not always respond to traditional treatment. Researchers are always seeking alternate ways to help alleviate symptoms of depression. A new study using psilocybin (the active ingredient in hallucinatory mushrooms) shows promise as a possible treatment for patients with depression.
Types of Extreme Treatment
Antidepressant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, and diet alteration are just a few methods prescribed to help treat depression. When symptoms are extreme or there just isn’t enough time to wait for meds to kick-in, some patients opt for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This procedure is performed with muscle relaxers and anesthesia. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s scalp, which then deliver a controlled electric current to the brain. A brief seizure ensues, jolting the brain, but not the rest of the body.
Another treatment is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS.) A device is held above the patient’s head to create a magnetic field in the brain. A light electrical signal is applied to the prefrontal cortex. This technique is centered on kick-starting the region of the brain that is connected to mood.
It’s High Time!
The new study out of Imperial College London used “magic mushrooms” based on a similar philosophy of treatment. The concept is to “reset” the brain-circuit activity that plays a role in depression.
Out of 20 patients who participated in the study, 19 showed relief from depression symptoms—up to five weeks after treatment. None of the participants had responded to other traditional treatments previously. Their brains scans before and after treatment showed clear changes in brain activity.
The researchers noted that it’s a temporary fix, but the psilocybin gave the patients the kick-start their brains needed to escape from the depressive state. Patients would still need to continue with other therapies, but the instant brain reset is what excited the researchers the most about the experimental treatment. They also warned that no one should attempt to self-medicate using psilocybin.
In the Meanwhile…
There needs to be more clinical trials using psychoactive drugs in order to establish more successful data. Also, the trial groups need to be much larger. In early 2018, a trial will begin that will examine the use of psilocybin versus a leading antidepressant. That should be interesting.
In the meanwhile, if you are concerned you may be suffering from depression, do not hesitate to seek help. You can call your doctor, talk to a friend, a loved one, and/or check online for helpful resources. The CDC has an informative page to help answer questions: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/resources.htm
And, you can always check current and archive article on GetThrive for more information and helpful tools and tips.