Why we’re covering this: We’re pro-drug legalization, especially since many drugs (like cannabis) have curative properties. We’re always excited to learn news ways that “bad” drugs can do good! Also, considering that 20 to 30 percent of LGBT people abuse drugs and that LGBT people have high rates of depression, it’s exciting to look at how one may help alleviate the other.
It has been said (by me) that a $20 hit of psychedelic drugs can save you hundreds in therapy, and a recent psychiatric study involving “magic mushrooms” backs up this claim, albeit with limitations.
Researchers in London gave a 10 milligram dose of psilocybin, the psychoactive chemical in psychedelic mushrooms, to 12 patients between the ages of 30 and 64; a week later, researchers gave them 25 milligram dose. Each of the patients had moderate to severe depression and had previously tried two other treatments for depression — things like anti-depressants or therapy.
The patients were then monitored during their five- to six-hour trips in “a treatment room designed to be calming”. A week later, researchers found that eight patients had a significant alleviation of their depressive symptoms; three months later, five patients still reported a significant decrease in their depression.
Now, before you run to your nearest “magic man” to buy shrooms for chronic depression, you should know that a 12-person study is hardly a representative sample, especially since these patients self-selected to participate with five of them having tried psilocybin in the past (meaning that all of them may have been more open-minded to the drug’s possible healing effects).
Also, there was no “control” or placebo group in this study (that is, nobody was given “fake” pills containing no psilocybin to test its psychosomatic effects). Researchers also admit that other non-psilocybin factors may have helped alleviate each participant’s depressive symptoms; a more effective study would have to monitor patients over a longer span of time and interview them to see what breakthroughs the experienced on the drug and afterwards.
Despite the study’s limitations, however, it’s important to note that psilocybin does affect serotonin receptors in the brain that other anti-depressants don’t. In fact, researchers have increasingly looked to other psychedelics like Ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD as alternative methods for treating depression, most with positive effects. However, the drugs’ illegality makes it hard for researchers to experiment with them; such tests require more ethical oversight and often have to operate with little funding.
(featured image via chandrika221)