Psilocybin mushrooms are mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin, which are psychedelic compounds. When ingested, these mushrooms break down and psilocin (the substance causing hallucinogenic effects) is produced. The mushrooms bring about feelings of euphoria and a deep connection with one’s surroundings, making them feel one with nature. Senses are heightened while on this drug and every little detail is magnified. The effects usually can be felt for four to seven hours depending on dosage. The question is, because these mushrooms relax us and cause us to see the world and ourselves in a different light, could they be effective in treating depression?
Being high on psilocybin mushrooms causes the user to think deeply and question every aspect of themselves and the universe. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris from Imperial College London states that “people try and run away from things and to forget, but with psychedelic drugs they’re forced to confront and really look at themselves.” In people with depression the default mode network in the brain becomes over-connected. When Carhart-Harris administered psilocybin mushrooms to 30 mentally stable volunteers, he found that the default mode network in the brain was disjointed and less active. This means that giving depressed people these mushrooms could free them from their negative thoughts, thus showing them that liberation is possible.
People struggling with depression find themselves stuck in the same negative thought processes over and over. They find it hard to see the positives in life. Experimenting with psilocybin mushrooms may assist these people to find value or meaning in their lives. The results of a study
published in the Royal Society Interface show that “the homological structure of the brain’s functional patterns undergoes a dramatic change post-psilocybin, characterized by the appearance of many transient structures of low stability and of a small number of persistent ones that are not observed in the case of placebo.” In simpler terms, this means that new areas of the brain start to exchange neural impulses after ingesting psilocybin.
About 14.8 million American adults suffer from depression. Many are on anti-depressant drugs, which are made in labs. Psilocybin mushrooms are natural and non-addictive. Patients would only have to ingest the mushrooms once and the results would last indefinitely. Antidepressants must be taken daily. It seems like it wouldn’t hurt for depressed patients to try psilocybin mushrooms in a professional environment under the supervision of doctors. If this mushroom changes a person’s mindset from negative to positive, I think it should start being used as a treatment for depression.