Could psychedelics transform mental health?
*British Museum Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
“[Psychedelics] have a revolutionary potential, and that’s not an exaggeration,” says Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, who will lead the study.
Now UK researchers are about to take part in the first major trials into whether one of these hallucinogenic drugs could be more effective than a leading antidepressant in the treatment of depression. Researchers at Imperial College London are to compare the magic mushroom compound psilocybin with a leading SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant, escitalopram, in a large trial… psilocybin affect[s] two areas of the brain [primarily] : The amygdala, which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety, and the default-mode network – a collaboration of different brain regions. How psilocybin affects the brain is not yet fully understood, but Dr Carhart-Harris believes it effectively “heats up” the mind from its rigidity, enabling people to overcome ingrained, self-destructive patterns of thinking. With support from a therapist, those who have undergone the treatment can then “recalibrate in a healthier way, so you’re revising your beliefs and assumptions and addictions”, Dr Carhart-Harris says.