Depression is a big problem in the US (especially after that high-intensity election). According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people between 15 and 44. It affects more than 15 million adults, (about seven percent of the US population age 18+). It’s also more common in women than men. Yikes!
Thankfully, there has been a big push within the last few years to tear down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. This doesn’t mean that we have a cure for depression, but it may make finding better treatment easier. And apparently, that treatment has moved into trials with currently illegal drugs like ecstasy and psilocybin. The studies are being conducted primarily with people suffering from late-stage cancer (these people are at high risk for suicide), but the results have been promising and it’s possible that future trials could expand to people who are depressed but don’t have cancer.
According to the folks over at Gizmodo, “New research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows that a single dose of mind-altering psilocybin, in conjunction with psychotherapy, reduces depression, anxiety, and other emotional distress in patients with advanced cancer, while increasing feelings of well-being. Importantly, these effects lasted for months.” Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, the thing that makes you see and hear and feel weird shiz.
The trial participants were blindfolded and listened to music after taking a capsule containing the psilocybin. They were encouraged to focus on inner experiences. Follow-ups showed that a single treatment gave near-immediate results. Patients reported decreased levels of despair, anguish and depression, and more positive opinions on the quality and meaning of life and the acceptance of death. Several patients even said they felt more spiritual and “unusually peaceful.” The patients felt that they’d learned something deeply meaningful and valuable, and many said the experience ranked in their top five most meaningful experiences. After the treatments, they attributed positive changes in their lives to that experience.
It certainly sounds promising, but it’s a classic case of “don’t try this at home.” The researchers say that people shouldn’t try to self-medicate with magic mushrooms, because as with any medication, it’s just not for everyone.
What do you think of the recent trends in the medical field? Tell us @BritandCo!
(h/t Gizmodo, photos via Marianna Armata/Getty + Dan Dalton/Getty)