Magic mushrooms are a natural type of psychedelic drug that people use for recreational or spiritual purposes. In the U.S., magic mushrooms are illegal. They contain the Schedule controlled substances psilocybin and psilocin. This drug classification means magic mushrooms have no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. But scientific reports show that magic mushrooms can treat depression. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ingredient psilocybin for use in a drug trial for treatment-resistant depression. What are the pros and cons of using mushrooms for depression? And how does this treatment compare to other options?
Studies show that patients with treatment-resistant depression respond well to psilocybin. Results suggest psilocybin ‘reset’ the brains of these patients. Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris led one of the psilocybin studies and says “similar brain effects” occur “with electroconvulsive therapy.” “Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states…” Treatment-resistant depression is when depressive symptoms aren’t relieved by any tried therapies, including: Various medications Various talk therapies Lifestyle changes Alternative therapies
Research demonstrates that relief lasted up to five weeks after two doses of psilocybin. Separate studies show that a single dose of psilocybin can lift anxiety and depression in cancer patients.
In contrast, many depressed patients need to take antidepressants every day and/or attend therapy every week to get similar benefits. These forms of treatment can also continue for years.