‘Shrooms Magically Reset Depressed Brains

A new breakthrough for ‘untreatable’ depression

(James Gallagher, BBC) A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms (or ‘shrooms) can reset the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.

While psychedelic “shrooms” have been found to relieve cases of depression thought to be untreatable, experts warn NOT to self-medicate and NOT to consume wild-harvested mushrooms unless positively identified by a profession mycologist.

The small study gave 19 patients a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient  .

Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks.

The team at Imperial performed brain scans before treatment with psilocybin and then the day after.

The study showed psilocybin affected two key areas of the brain.

  • The amygdala – which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety – became less active. The greater the reduction, the greater the improvement in reported symptoms.
  • The default-mode network – a collaboration of different brain regions – became more stable after taking psilocybin.

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, told the BBC: “Patients [said], ‘I’ve been reset, reborn, rebooted’, and one patient said his brain had been defragged and cleaned up.”

However, this remains a small study and had no “control” group of healthy people with whom to compare the brain scans.