Magic Mushroom May Improve Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Magic mushrooms are psychedelics, famous for their notorious hallucinating effects. But not many people know that it can relieve people suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly 17.3 million people in the US are a victim of depression. For now, the most effective treatment for MDD is psychotherapy along with using some selective antidepressants. A previous study revealed that combining antidepressants and psychotherapy can provide effective results instead of using any one of them alone.

The problem with using antidepressants is their side effects which hit nearly all patients. so when a depression patient is getting therapy, he is not just fighting with the major depressive disorder (MDD) but also with the potential side effects of antidepressants. It makes researchers find a better alternative to these medicines and interestingly magic mushrooms can help.

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There is scientific evidence that magic mushrooms of the psilocybin have natural stress-relieving properties. One of the studies published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals that one dose of psilocybin is effective to relieve anxiety and depression symptoms in cancer patients.

Comparing psilocybin with ketamine, a popular antidepressant, it has lower chances of side effects and addiction, when administered under a certified medical practitioner. But the benefits of combined therapy using magic mushrooms and psychotherapy together are limited.

Recently a research team from the Johns Hopkins University has studied the efficacy of psilocybin-assisted therapy to treat depression patients. The complete study findings are published in JAMA Psychiatry.

This new study findings have extended the horizon for psilocybin’s potential. The previous evidence of its benefits for cancer patients is proven with this new study suggesting that it can be used for major depression disorder (MDD) patients as well, along with their regular psychotherapy.

For this trial, the data was conducted between 2017 and 2019 from MDD patients who had no previous record of a psychotic disorder and were not using antidepressants. They randomly picked 24 individuals to test their hypothesis. This special psychedelic-assisted therapy was continued for nearly 8 weeks. It had 18 in-person sessions and 2 days were assigned for the independent psilocybin treatment.

Nearly 67% of participants were able to see a significant change and improvement in their depression symptoms after the first week of this psychedelic-assisted therapy. After four weeks, this number was recorded to be 71% when all of these participants were called back for a follow-up.

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But there are some limitations that may affect these results. For example, this study group has no minority representation or consideration of unique factors. It is necessary to consider such factors because white or common race people are more likely to report psychotic issues and seek help. For other minority groups such as Black or Hispanic groups experience MDD for the longest periods of time and never receive treatment. So, to predict these new benefits of magic mushroom, the researchers have to widen their representative populations.

This new study didn’t tell anything about the long term effects of magic mushrooms-based treatment.  Typically, all psychoactive medicines are highly likely to cause addiction, withdrawal, or overdosing effects in the long run. If a natural alternative of them is offering the same benefits, it has to be evaluated for safety first so that it doesn’t end up like antidepressants too.

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