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Psilocybin and Mood Improvement

Discovering Psilocybin's Ability to Lessen Negative Brain Responses

There have been many studies showing the positive effect of psilocybin on mood. Here are summaries of three of these studies:

Psilocybin and the Amygdala

Understanding How Psilocybin Influences Emotional Processing in the Brain.

here is a part of our brain called the amygdala that is important in how we process emotions. We know that psilocybin affects the amygdala[1]. Psilocybin has been shown to reduce the brain’s response to negative things and make people feel happier.

Researchers put on a study with 25 healthy volunteers. Each volunteer was given either psilocybin or a fake treatment called a placebo. Then their brains were scanned using a special type of brain imaging called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They then showed the volunteers some negative pictures.

The study showed that when the volunteers were given psilocybin, their amygdala responded less to the negative pictures than those given the placebo. This means that psilocybin seemed to make the amygdala less reactive to negative feelings. Also, in the same study, they saw that psilocybin increased positive mood.

These findings could be important for understanding and treating conditions like depression. The amygdala in depressed people work too hard, so psilocybin might be able to slow it down.

A Study Using Psilocybin and Emotional Support to Help People with Depression That Doesn't Get Better Easily

As mentioned, psilocybin is a natural substance found in certain mushrooms that affects the serotonin receptors in our brains. In this study[2], the researchers wanted to see if psilocybin could be helpful for patients with depression that doesn’t respond to other treatments.
They worked with 12 patients who had severe depression that wasn’t getting better with the usual treatments. They gave the patients two doses of psilocybin, one week apart. They received emotional support before, during, and after each session. The researchers wanted to know if the patients felt any effects from the psilocybin and if it helped with their depression.

Here's what they found:

The effects of psilocybin started about 30 to 60 minutes after taking it. The effects reached their peak after 2 to 3 hours, and then faded away after about 6 hours. On a scale from O to 1, the patients rated the intensity of the effects as 0.51 for the lower dose and 0.75 for the higher dose. The patients didn’t have any serious problems from taking psilocybin, but some of them experienced temporary anxiety, confusion, nausea, or a headache. The researchers also saw a big decrease in depressive symptoms one week and three months after the higher dose of psilocybin. The patients also reported feeling less anxious and having more enjoyment in their lives.

The Emerging Role of Psilocybin in Mental Health Therapies

What does this mean?

This study suggests that psilocybin could be safe and helpful for people with depression that doesn’t respond to other treatments. But more research is needed to confirm these findings and to understand how psilocybin works for epression. Scientists want to do more studies with better designs to learn more about the potential of using psilocybin as a treatment option.

Studying if Magic Mushrooms Can Make People Happier

Scientists wanted to know if magic mushrooms could help people who feel really, really sad, like when they have a problem called major epressive disorder (MDD). They were curious about how much it could help, how long the good feelings would last, and if it was safe.
Clinical Trial Findings on Magic Mushrooms as Depression Treatment

How They Did the Study

This was like a special test[3]. They did it between December 2019 and June 2022 in 11 places in the US. They invited people to join the test, and they divided them into two groups. One group got a single dose of magic mushroom (psilocybin), and the other group got something that looked like it but didn’t have the magic stuff (niacin). They both got therapy to help them through the experience. They chose adults between 21 and 65 years old who had been very sad for at least two months. Some people with certain problems like thinking strange things, using too many drugs, or feeling really, really bad and wanting to hurt themselves couldn’t join. If they were taking medicine for their sadness, they had to stop before joining the test.

What They Checked

They looked at a special test score for sadness called the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). The higher the score, the sadder someone is. They looked at this score at the beginning and then again after 43 days. They also looked at it after 8 days. They wanted to see if people were less sad after the magic mushroom treatment.

They also checked how well people could do normal things, like work or spend time with friends. They used something called the Sheehan Disability Scale to measure this. And they cooked at how long people felt better and if they felt completely better.

What They Found

The people who took the magic mushroom felt much less sad compared to those who got the fake one. It was a big difference. People who took the magic mushroom also had an easier time doing normal things. Some of them felt better for a while, but not everyone felt completely better. Luckily, no one got really sick from the magic mushroom, but some people did feel a bit sick or worried.

Why It Matters

This study shows that magic mushrooms might be able to help people who are very, very sad, and they could feel better for a while. It’s an exciting idea, but they need to study it more to be sure it’s safe and how it works. Magic mushrooms, with the right kind of therapy, might be a new way to help people who are really sad.


Scientists have been studying the effects of psilocybin, a substance found in certain mushrooms, on our mood. They found that psilocybin can make our brains respond less to negative feelings and make us feel happier. This is important because it might help people who struggle with conditions like depression. One study showed that when people with severe depression took psilocybin and received emotional support, they felt better and had fewer symptoms of depression. While this is promising, more research is needed to be sure if psilocybin can be a safe and effective treatment for depression. Scientists are working on more studies to learn more about it. So, in the future, psilocybin might offer new hope to those who don’t get better easily with other treatments.


[1] Psilocybin-induced Decrease in Amygdala Reactivity Correlates with Enhanced Positive Mood in Healthy Volunteers

[2] Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study

Robin L Carhart-Harris, Mark Bolstridge, James Rucker, Camilla M J Day, David Erritzoe, Mendel Kaelen, Michael Bloomfield,
James A Rickard, Ben Forbes, Amanda Feilding, David Taylor, Steve Pilling, Valerie H Curran, David J Nutt,

[3] Single-Dose Psilocybin Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial,scO.

Raison CL, Sanacora G, Woolley J, et al. Single-Dose Psilocybin Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized
Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2023;330(9):843-853. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.14530

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