Psychedelics in the treatment of depression

Hallucinations and geometric patterns are not really the main focus of the trip. They are just a stop on the road to treating depression, trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychedelics in the treatment of depression what is their role?

According to experts, psychedelics are far superior to conventional drugs due to their strong effect on neuroplasticity.

“Will psychedelics save the world?” (a remarkable read that reveals the potential and truth about psychedelics in a substantive to painful way). Will psychedelics save us? – modern people, lost in the rush of life, with head and soul problems.

Psychedelics in the treatment of depression

Depression – a disease of civilization that attacks slowly, creeps in the shadows to then cover us with its darkness. Do we deserve it? Do we have to participate in this vicious cycle driven by the system? The number of patients suffering from depression is increasing every year. Have we reached the “0” point where conventional medicine gives up? Health care resources are not sufficient. Hospitals are closing, psychiatric aid departments are being closed, queues for psychologists and psychiatrists privately are as long as 2-3 months (depends on the locality), and for reimbursed help…this time may be lacking. On top of that, there is the overcoming of shame, because after all, we Poles are just learning that a sick head (psyche), is a normal part of the body, just like the spine, stomach, or hand, and a psychologist or psychiatrist can help us, just like any other doctor, because he knows the methods and medicines.

Why can psychedelics help treat depression?

You can find out what psychedelics are and what types they are at this link. In this article, we will focus mainly on psilocybin mushrooms (hallucinics), which are psychoactive substances – psychodysleptics. In mushrooms there is – psilocybin – a natural psychedelic that affects the stimulation of receptors that produce serotonin – the happiness hormone. These receptors are located 90% in the gut and 2% in the brain. One of the reasons for the disease of depression is reduced levels of serotonin in our bodies. A huge influence on the amount of this hormone has our diet and way of life, long-term stress can contribute to its decrease, thus reducing the comfort of our well-being.

SSRIs – drugs for depression.

SSRIs – are the most popular depression drugs prescribed by psychiatrists, and were developed in 1987 in American laboratories. SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are considered safe and do not have as many side effects as other types of antidepressants, such as TMPDs. SSRIs have a positive effect on our mood and help treat depression, and they work by blocking serotonin reuptake in the brain. That is, serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, that is, a chemical signal that carries information between nerve cells , it is released between the synapses of nerve connections, and SSRI drugs cause it to stop circulating, increasing the amount in brain tissue, in the synaptic gaps between these neurons. In summary, SSRIs stop serotonin in our brain before it can be further synthesized.

Psylocybin contained in hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Psylocybin – a naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in mushrooms of the genus Psylocybe. It affects changes in the perception of reality, makes the way we experience emotions significantly different from what we come into contact with on a daily basis. It is a psychoactive agent that affects the amount of serotonin in our brain. Depending on how much of the substance is taken in by the body, it can cause euphoric states, improve mood, provide psychedelic experiences and distort the perception of reality (hallucinations). The recent renaissance of psychedelics and the increased amount of research on these substances shows the MOST important thing – that psilocybin is beginning to be taken very seriously as a treatment for depression, especially for its most severe type – drug-resistant depression. The effects of psilocybin are linked to the amount of serotonin in the brain, which is why psychedelics are often referred to as SSRI drugs, which are accessed by nature itself and are increasingly used in psychiatry.

Differences between SSRIs and psilocybin (psychedelics).

Both substances have the effect of raising serotonin levels in the brain. However, the receptors that are most affected are important. SSRIs modulate serotonin 5-HT1a receptors, while psilocybin’s target is to bind to serotonin 5HT2a receptors.

5-HT1a receptors

5-HT1a receptors are associated with stress, they are located in the limbic system, their stimulation helps us “endure more.” They make us more resilient, have a higher tolerance to events, which can also lead to emotional dullness.

5-HT2a receptors

The 5-HT2a receptors work differently – “you can handle more, but work through the subject so you don’t come back to it,” this is the reaction triggered by psilocybin, which alters the receptors not only of the limbic system, but of the entire cerebral cortex.

We won’t pretend to be specialists in psychiatry, so here we throw in a quote from an interview that Maciej Lorenc ( a member of the Board of Directors of the Polish Psychedelic Society, writer, translator and sociologist) conducted with Dr. n. med. Justyna Holka-Pokorska(psychiatrist, sexologist, therapist, president of the Warsaw branch of the Polish Psychiatric Association):

“ML: Both classic psychedelics and SSRI drugs affect the serotonergic system, but they work in different ways. What are the differences?

HP: This issue is currently being addressed by Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris of Imperial College in London, among others. The elect of antidepressants is that they stimulate the synaptic action of one or more monoamines: serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine. This occurs through increased blocking of one or more transporters of these neurotransmitters. The pharmacological effects of most antidepressants on monoamine transporters remain consistent with the monoamine concept of depression. According to this concept, a deficiency of monoamines is observed in depression and related disorders, and the use of antidepressants restores balance in the neuronal pathways of the neurotransmitters I mentioned above.

The clinical effect of SSRI drugs is to regulate emotional processing and stabilize the function of neuronal pathways that have become dysfunctional as a result of chronic stress or depression. The therapeutic effect of antidepressants observed by patients is primarily a reduction in overreactivity or hypersensitivity to stimuli and/or a restoration of the ability to experience emotional states with a positive tinge, but some of them say that antidepressants overly suppress the emotions they experience, causing a “dissociation from emotions” or even “emotional anesthesia.”

They also complain of side effects of the therapy, such as loss of libido. Sometimes they even discontinue treatments with antidepressants, especially when they are inappropriately chosen or used in too high doses. Some studies indicate that more than half of patients continue to suffer from depressive symptoms despite proper treatment with an antidepressant considered first-line, and nearly half of patients discontinue treatment due to poor tolerance of pharmacotherapy.

It is worth noting that in the vast majority of cases, the benefits of antidepressants against symptoms of depression and anxiety significantly outweigh the side effects. (…) Thus, the introduction of SSRI drugs was a major progress in psychiatry, but it can also be said that in some ways it helped cement the foundations of the lifestyle of an era of rampant consumerism, reinforcing the hyper-productivity demands placed on employees of large corporations by their employers. In this case, the use of antidepressants enabled the perpetuation of a detrimental lifestyle of reduced sleep duration, extended working hours and long-term tolerance of chronic stress, which conditions the development of depressive symptoms.

ML: And what is the therapeutic effect of psilocybin?

HP: Psylocybin and psilocin are natural tryptamine alkaloids and also structural analogs of serotonin. In the brain, they bind to various types of serotonin receptors, with active affinity for 5HT2A receptors being most responsible for their clinical effect. Their action mimics that of serotonin, which is missing from the synaptic gap during a depressive episode. The clinical effect of psilocybin is different from the SSRI drugs mentioned earlier. Psylocybin does not stabilize or extinguish excessive sensitivity to stimuli, but on the contrary: the said reactivity to external stimuli significantly increases.

The new methodology associated with the therapeutic use of psychedelics assumes that it is the psychedelic experience itself that can become therapeutic, through which people gain a new perspective. At the same time, evidence is being sought that these substances stimulate neuroplasticity processes in the brain. Descriptions of experiences from psychedelic-assisted therapy sessions show that. as a result of psilocybin use, patients may experience an interruption of the sequences of negative thoughts and automatic interpretations of reality associated with the so-called “negative thoughts. “depression triad” described by Aaron Beck. The depressive triad involves a negative way of perceiving and evaluating the past, present and future. These thought spirals are often associated with guilt, sadness and other unpleasant emotions.”


The content on is educational, research, and is an expression of many opinions, to which one should reserve. We do not encourage or even discourage the use of any means of influencing consciousness, all of which can both cure and do great harm. In particular, we advise against growing mushrooms from growkits in countries where it is illegal – min. in Poland – because it involves criminal liability. We recommend that growkits purchased from us be disposed of 72 hours after receipt.

Is psilocybin better than an SSRI?

There is no clear answer to this question, psilocybin is an extremely promising agent for psychiatric treatment, but the amount of research that is being done on its properties is still not enough to convince traditional medicine. In addition, SSRI drugs have played an important role in treating depression and have helped many people. They are invaluable depending on the context of their application. SSRIs are a tool in coping with the daily life of sufferers, they help to survive, but they will not fix the cause of the disease, such as depression or anxiety. Instead, they can protect our minds from emotional crises. In this case, they will work well for patients who suffer from insomnia, help to function in daily activities, such as work or childcare. If we break a leg, we get crutches to help us move around and not give up our activities. Once the cast is removed, we can begin rehabilitation to regain muscle strength. Similar importance can be attributed to SSRI group drugs, they are “crutches”, they are support for our injury, they allow it to rest. While there are many opinions on the “beneficialness” of SSRIs(more here) we are not going to question whether psilocybin is better than SSRIs – it all depends on the context.


Research on psychedelics – the beginnings.

Why are we even talking about the renaissance of psychedelics? Well, that’s because research on psychedelics in the context of mental health has been conducted since the 1950s, to later, in 1971. drastically interrupt them with a change in the law and ban them. Responsible for this was American President Richard Nixon, who was not comfortable with the hippie movement and the mass of young people who did not want to take part in the Vietnam War. (But that’s a topic for a separate post). The forerunners of research on psychedelics were two scientists: Albert Hoffman – Swiss scientist – creator of LSD acid and Czech psychiatrist Stanislaw Grofa. Hoffman worked for the Sandoz pharmaceutical company, which, after the invention of LSD, invested $3 million to distribute samples of the acid to psychiatric hospitals and universities around the world, believing that someone would find its practical use in medicine. Well, it was happening…in Europe, Stanislav Grof – a legend of psychiatry – made intensive use of it, conducted research involving the action of psychedelics for almost 20 years in Prague and the US, working with the most severe cases of patients and obtaining unimaginable advances in treatment. Less well known is Marina Boyadjieva, working at the Bulgarian Department of Psychiatry at Sofia Medical University, who created an experimental modeling of psychosis through LSD.

If you want to learn more about this research – check out the information:

Contemporary research on psychedelics.

Psychedelics have returned to scientific institutes relatively recently. In 2000, researchers at the Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore were the first to receive approval from regulatory bodies in the US to return to research with psychedelic substances. The research institute, under the leadership of John Krystal (Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University), is investigating the properties of psilocybin. Scientists will conduct research on the organic chemical compound present in magic mushrooms (i.e. psilocybin). The fruit of their 2006 work, a publication on the safety and lasting effects after taking a single dose of psilocybin, has opened the door for other scientific centers to conduct research on psychedelics.

You can find more about the details of the experiments conducted there at the source:

Research on psychedelics addresses a variety of issues. Scientific institutions are looking at the impact of psychedelic substances in treatment:

– depression,

– addictions ( alcohol, drugs, tobacco)

– Alzheimer’s disease,

– Parkinson’s disease,

– post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),

– anxiety disorders,

– lyme disease syndrome,

– Eating disorders – diseases such as anorexia,

Treatment of existential suffering of terminally ill people (e.g., cancer) – involves helping them come to terms with death.

A list of all institutions that conduct research work on psychedelics:

Among the best-known centers are:

Johns Hopkins University

Imperial College London

Vancouver Island University

Oregon Health & Science University

Washington State University

University of California

Will psychedelics save the world? Will psychedelics save us?

In the publication by Maciej Lorenz, “Will psychedelics save the world,” interviews with experts are often cited, whose opinion is that psychedelics can help treat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression. The experience that the “plants” give is comparable to that achieved through deep meditation, so often by superficial assessment they are often used for recreational purposes – nothing could be further from the truth. Many people believe in their power, with microdosing considered the best way to achieve creativity and productivity and cure the diseases of our psyche. Read more about psilocybin microdosing here.

In conclusion, psychedelics in the treatment of depression still have a long way to go. Enthusiasts of mushroom therapy face quite a challenge. The fact that psilocybin induces hours of visualization can be troublesome. Sometimes even cause discouragement due to horror – the experience is exotic. At the University of California, Davis, Prof. David Olson began a search for such psychedelics that give the aforementioned positive effect – without visuals distracting from the substance, i.e. therapy.

This discovery could prove to be a major breakthrough in the field of neuroscience. One thing is certain at this point, psychedelic therapy needs to be monitored by a doctor, otherwise the effects may be unmanageable.

The pharmaceutical industry and nature

Research on psilocybin needs to gain momentum, but there is a fear that the pharmaceutical industry will not allow this to happen, because it is better to research and sell, for example, psychotropic drugs that cannot be found in nature, but can only be bought at the pharmacy. Business is business. We are eagerly waiting for the psilocybin contained in hallucinogenic mushrooms to have the same path as medical marijuana and be an available natural medicine.

* What is a psychedelic experience?

The content on is educational, research, and is an expression of many opinions, to which one should reserve. We do not encourage or even discourage the use of any means of influencing consciousness, all of which can both cure and do great harm. In particular, we advise against growing mushrooms from growkits in countries where it is illegal – min. in Poland – because it involves criminal liability. We recommend that growkits purchased from us be disposed of 72 hours after receipt.


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