Depression challenged by medical studies; psilocybin potentially treats

Evan Kuzemchak, Social Media Coordinator

 Psilocybin is a substance that can be found in many mushroom species that has the ability to produce psychedelic effects. When taken, psilocybin generates euphoric feelings and sensory hallucinations.

    While some may think this substance is very dangerous, Verywell Inc, a certified news outlet reviewed by MD’s “suggests that when combined with psychotherapy, psilocybin may be an effective treatment for some mental health conditions, particularly depression.”

     The National Institute of Mental Health reports that “an estimated 7.1% of all adults in the U.S. experienced at least one episode of depression during the previous year.” Usually it can be treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy, but now researchers have caught interest in substances such as psilocybin which could allegedly be an effective treatment for depression. 

     North Harford alumna (whose last name will remain anonymous) Ellie who has an interest with psilocybin says “psilocybin is the active chemical in about 200 kinds of fungi that can cause hallucinogenic effects in not only humans but in other species of animals.”

     Ellie states that “a lot of studies have been done on its effects and psilocybin in low doses has been legalized for medical use in Colorado.” Ellie provides that she has “only ingested psilocybin twice,” and she “started with a low dose,” but says it was perfect for her first time “but it’s different for every individual.”

     Ellie advises that “it’s not recommended to ingest frequently in a small span of time” and to “do it on your own timeline, don’t pressure yourself into it or let anyone else convince you.” Ellie goes on to warn that it is “NOT a party drug or something to do for fun.”

     A Netflix documentary called ‘Have a Great Trip; Adventures in psychedelics’ documents more of the recreational side of use while still staying on track for being informative. Ellie says from her experience and from medical research of psilocybin it can do “absolute wonders in treating mental illness.”

     Researchers report that during psychedelic-assisted therapy “In a safe and comforting environment, an individual will take a low dose of psilocybin under the supervision of a professional.” then after the session “the therapist will work with the individual […] The goal is to help the person process and find meaning in what they have just experienced.” 

     According to a study done in 2016, “psilocybin therapy was linked to a significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression in people who were going through cancer treatment.” The therapy was also linked to increasing optimism and leading to a better quality of life. A follow up to the study even suggested these effects to be prolonged, participants reported reduction in depressive symptoms 5 whole years after the treatment.