Psychedelic mushrooms – more popularly known as 'magic shrooms' – have evolved as a highly effective way to treat depression, without 'blunting' emotions like anti-depressants usually function.
The drug – which is still considered illegal, yet so popular among youngsters due to its hallucinogenic abilities, has proven to be effective for depression patients who suffer from the serious symptoms and have shown no sign of improvement with medication.
A study has revealed that majority of patients taking mushrooms, seemed to have eased their depression symptoms – and experts also said that it could 'cure deep psychological wounds'.
At the same time, in further interesting revelations, it was found that the intake of mushrooms has not dampened the area of the brain responsible for processing emotional reactions.
Researchers, therefore, concluded that psilocybins or these magic shrooms can bring similar benefits to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – while also enabling them to 'reconnect with their emotions'.
With more than 300 million people affected by depression worldwide, it persists to be the leading cause of disability and death.
"I believe that psychedelics hold a potential to cure deep psychological wounds, and I believe that by investigating their neuropsychopharmacological mechanism, we can learn to understand this potential," study author Leor Roseman, a PhD student at Imperial College London told PsyPost.
Roseman's team studied an area of the brain known as the amygdala, which is linked to emotional processing and detecting threats. Multiple studies in the past have reported depression's association with greater responses to negative, particularly sad and fearful emotions in faces.
For this particular research, 20 patients with major depression went through two psilocybin-assisted therapy sessions. The participants were given brain scans before their first treatment and also after the second session.
The scans involved showing them images of faces with fearful, happy, and neutral expressions. Post taking the mushrooms for therapy, the majority of the patients reported that it improved their depressive tendencies and symptoms.
A previous study conducted by the same group of researchers had also lead to findings, suggesting that the particular drug appears to 'reset' brain circuits in depressed people, with patients reporting improvements that last up to five weeks after treatment.
Heightened amygdala responses were noticed by researchers in cases of both fearful and happy faces after treatment with psilocybin.
"Psilocybin-assisted therapy might mitigate depression by increasing emotional connection, this is unlike SSRI antidepressants which are criticized for creating in many people a general emotional blunting," said Roseman.
The research was published in the journal Neuropharmacology.
But these mushrooms aren't the only illegal drugs that showed benefits in combating symptoms of depression.
Daily Mail Online reported that the illegal party drug ketamine helps diminishing suicidal thoughts in depression patients, unlike any other anti-depressants in the market, as revealed by a study. The tranquillizer was found to be more effective at improving overall mood and fatigue than a commonly-used sedative to treat depression.
This only establishes that illegal party drugs like MDMA and magic mushrooms could possibly curb the ever increasing suicide rates in the US.