The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is at the forefront of investigating groundbreaking therapies utilizing psilocybin. As a naturally occurring psychedelic compound present in 'magic mushrooms,' the molecular structure of psilocybin allows it to permeate the central nervous system. As scientific and medical professionals continue to delve into its effects on the brain and mind, they are discovering its potential as a therapeutic option for mental health conditions.
The researchers report that the substantial antidepressant effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy, given with supportive psychotherapy, may last at least a year for some patients.
Psilocybin can produce perceptual changes, altering a person’s awareness of their surroundings and of their thoughts and feelings. Treatment with psilocybin has shown promise in research settings for treating a range of mental health disorders and addictions.
John Hopkins University conducted a study on the effects of psilocybin therapeutic treatment with a group of adults suffering from depression. The treatment included preparation sessions, 2 sessions (2 weeks apart) with psilocybin with a duration of 5 hours each and follow up therapy sessions. Each session was done individually with therapists and in a controlled environment. After treatment, most participants showed a substantial decrease in their symptoms, and almost half were in remission from depression at the follow-up.
The researchers reported that psilocybin treatment produced large decreases in depression, and that depression severity remained low one, three, six and 12 months after treatment. Compared to standard antidepressants, which must be taken for long stretches of time, psilocybin has the potential to enduringly relieve the symptoms of depression with one or two treatments.
Perhaps no region of the brain is more fittingly named than the claustrum, taken from the Latin word for “hidden or shut away.” The claustrum is an extremely thin sheet of neurons deep within the cortex, yet it reaches out to every other region of the brain. Its true purpose remains “hidden away” as well, with researchers speculating about many functions. For example, Francis Crick of DNA-discovery fame believed that the claustrum is the seat of consciousness, responsible for awareness and sense of self.
The scans after psilocybin use showed that the claustrum was less active, meaning the area of the brain believed responsible for setting attention and switching tasks is turned down when on the drug. The researchers say that this ties in with what people report as typical effects of psychedelic drugs, including feelings of being connected to everything and reduced senses of self or ego.