In the News

Magic Mushrooms | An Antidote for Negative Thinking?

Lara Calus

29th September 2022

Not everyone responds to traditional depression medication, and recent studies have found the compound 'psilocybin' (found in psychedelic mushrooms) can decrease the activity in the default mode network, which has been shown to be linked to negative ruminations.

Warning: scientists have cautioned that this alternative should not be used as a self-medicating option. Furthermore, psilocybin therapy should be avoided with those with a history or risk of psychosis or other adverse effects.

As we are becoming more aware and knowledgeable of the far fetching positive effects of psychedelic mushrooms, two recent studies published by The New England Journal of Medicine and Nature have found some compelling evidence that psilocybin causes altered states of consciousness and perception. Moreover, it can decrease out default mode network.

Our default mode network is a connection between the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex and when active we tend to think about ourselves and focus internally. The use of the active compound in magic mushrooms psilocybin alters the brain response to serotonin but also fMRI scans have shown that it decreases regulation of memory and emotions.

How does this all link to the symptoms of depression? Negative thought patterns and ruminations have been shown to increase the activity of the default mode network, in depressed patients. Some would explain this as being ‘stuck’ in negative thoughts to decrease our responsive to the world around us.

Recent studies have found that psilocybin is superior at treating symptoms of depression in comparison to the traditional existing anti-depressant drug, 'Escitalopram', with findings demonstrating an overall increase in brain areas that are usually reduced in those with depression. In addition to these findings, depression rating scales have indicated that psilocybin has had the greatest effect on overall mental wellbeing.

Read more about this study and use it in discussions about the role drug therapy in treating depression.

Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms

Lara Calus

Lara is an experienced teacher of Psychology.

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