A study has reportedly found that psilocybin, a psychedelic drug compound obtained from magic mushrooms, can free up the brains of those suffering from severe depression differently than how other antidepressants do.
Based on the brain scans of 60 subjects, researchers believe that the drug can treat depression among individuals in a unique way.
For the record, psychedelics are currently being studied for the treatment of various mental health disorders. However, patients suffering from depression are warned from taking psilocybin by themselves.
A synthetic form of the psychedelic is under trial under strict medical conditions, assisted with psychological support from experts before, after, as well as during the administration of the drug to test subjects.
Prof. David Nutt, author of the study, explained that, with depression, the human brain gets stuck in a rut and is locked into a particularly negative way of thinking.
Nutt explained that when given psilocybin, participants’ brains ‘opened up’ and became more fluid and flexible for up to three weeks.
This was determined by observing increased connections between different regions of the brain of the test subjects through scans. As a result, these subjects were more likely to experience improvement in their mood months later.
Supposedly, such connections were not seen in the brains of individuals that were administered the standard antidepressants.
Prof Nutt added that the result supports the research’s initial prediction and confirms that psilocybin can be used as an actual alternative to treat depression.
To the uninitiated, psychedelics are hallucinogenic drugs that affect all human senses and alter their thinking, emotions, and sense of time.
Psilocybin can produce the same effect as regular antidepressants and may only be taken once or twice, unlike the former which are taken every day. However, more research, involving more participants, is needed to confirm the same.
Senior study author, Prof. Robin Carhart-Harris, stated that it is not yet known how long the changes last, as the researchers understand that some people can relapse, and their brains may revert back to the rigid activity patterns seen in depression after a while.
Presently researchers want to test the theory of changes in brain connectivity for other mental health illnesses, including anorexia, an eating disorder.
Source credit: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-61070591