Psilocybin for Mental Health Disorders

To date, studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is beneficial in relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental health disorders. Psilocybin has also shown effectiveness at easing fear and anxiety in people with terminal cancer.

Due to the limitations in studying Schedule I substances, many of these studies have been led by Johns Hopkins Medicine, which established the world’s largest psychedelic research center and first psychedelic research center in the U.S., The Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, in 2019.

One study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that taking psilocybin in combination with talk therapy significantly improved symptoms of clinical depression. Some study participants continued to experience benefits for as long as one year after receiving just two doses of the compound.

“Historically speaking,” says Dr. Marino, “these smaller-scale studies looking at the effects of psilocybin on depression have tested the effects of just one, two or sometimes three doses of psilocybin – all with encouraging results. What the results suggest is that psilocybin’s positive effects can be long-lasting and that people may only need to take it intermittently to get its benefits, potentially reducing the risk of side effects.”

How Does Psilocybin Help People With Mental & Behavioral Health Disorders?

When taken under supported conditions, psilocybin can cause self-described “spiritual” experiences that generally result in positive changes in the person’s attitude, mood and behavior. In particular, psilocybin appears to elevate a personality quality known as “openness,” which encompasses sensitivity, imagination, and an appreciation for the values and viewpoints of others.

The improved openness found in people who take psilocybin may be connected to the chemical’s ability to increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to create new connections. To date, several studies have supported the idea that psilocybin and other psychedelics can induce or increase neuroplasticity.

“Although more research is needed to determine what’s happening at the chemical level,” says Dr. Marino, “psilocybin appears to increase the brain’s capacity to change, to become more adaptive, and to break out of habits and negative thought patterns. Hence psilocybin’s great potential in helping people with problems like depression, anxiety, OCD and addiction.”

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