Psilocybin Helps Depressed People Feel Positive Emotions

After taking psilocybin, depressed people experienced feelings of unity, transcendence of space and time and a loss of boundaries.

After taking psilocybin, depressed people experienced feelings of unity, transcendence of space and time and a loss of boundaries.

Psilocybin – the active part of magic mushrooms — can help reduce depression symptoms and reawaken the emotions, research finds.

The stronger the ‘mystical experience’, the more the hallucinogenic drug helped.

People whose depression was most improved reported a more mystical experience, including feelings of unity and transcendence.

Although antidepressants like Prozac can often help those who are depressed, they reduce both positive and negative emotions.

Psilocybin therapy, though, may revive brain activity and help people reconnect with their emotions.

Dr Leor Roseman, the study’s first author, said:

“Our findings are important as they reveal biological changes after psilocybin therapy and, more specifically, they suggest that increased emotional processing is crucial for the treatment to work.”

Psilocybin and positive emotions study

The conclusions come from a small trial on 20 depressed people.

All stopped taking their antidepressants for two weeks and were given two doses of psilocybin under controlled conditions in the lab.

Afterwards, patients reported feeling emotionally re-connected.

Brain scans revealed that their response to emotional faces after taking psilocybin was increased.

Dr Roseman said:

“Having a healthy control group in future studies should be helpful in answering some of these questions.

We also want to investigate how the amygdala responds a longer time after treatment, which will inform us about longer term effects – compared to the current study, which was only looked at one day after the therapy.”

Feelings of unity

The researchers also looked at patients’ feelings about taking the hallucinogen.

Those who found it helped most reported a more ‘mystical experience’.

They were more likely to experience feelings of unity, transcending space and time, and a loss of boundaries.

The next stage for the researchers is to directly compare psilocybin with antidepressants.

The studies were published in the journals Neuropharmacology   and Frontiers in Pharmacology (Roseman et al., 2017; Roseman et al., 2018).

Neuroticism Is Linked To Depression But 2 Traits Are Protective

Neuroticism and depression are linked but a study finds beneficial effects of two other personality traits together.

Neuroticism and depression are linked but a study finds beneficial effects of two other personality traits together.

Being extraverted and conscientious helps to reduce the risk of depression in neurotic people, new research finds.

People who are highly neurotic typically look at the world in a negative way.

They also find it hard to deal with stress and can experience a lot of negative emotions.

However, it seems being social and organised helps to ameliorate the effect.

Dr Kristin Naragon-Gainey, the study’s first author, explained:

“If someone has high levels of extraversion they might be very good at gathering social support or increasing their positive affectivity through social means.

Similarly, conscientiousness has a lot to do with striving toward goals and putting plans in action, which can combat the withdrawal and avoidance that can go along with neuroticism.”

Typically, in the past psychologists have focused on how individual aspects of personality affect depression risk.

Dr Naragon-Gainey explained that the key to this new study was looking beyond one single personality trait, like neuroticism:

“We know individually how these traits relate to symptoms, but now we are beginning to understand how the traits might impact one another.

We have to consider the whole person in order to understand the likelihood of developing negative symptoms down the road.”

Neuroticism and depression study

For the study, 463 people who had had psychiatric treatment in the last year were interviewed and surveyed.

Many were had both high levels of neuroticism and depression.

Statistical analysis showed that high conscientiousness and high extraversion together had a protective effect on people who were highly neurotic.

Dr Naragon-Gainey said:

“I think there’s a tendency in treatment and clinical psychology to concentrate on the problems and the negatives.

If you utilize the pre-existing strengths that clients bring with them, it can positively affect treatment and the level of symptoms going forward, as well as reinforcing what the person is already doing well.”

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Naragon-Gainey & Simms, 2018).

The Personality Trait That Indicates Depression Risk

Around 25% of Americans experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

Around 25% of Americans experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

Being neurotic is the strongest risk factor for depression and anxiety, research finds.

Neuroticism is a tendency to experience negative emotions like fear, guilt, shame, sadness and anger.

People who are neurotic tend to startle easily and can be nervous even when there is nothing to be nervous about, the study showed.

The good news is that a depressive personality can be changed, contrary to what many people think.

Also, being high in conscientiousness and an extravert together has a protective effect on people who are highly neurotic.

The conclusions come from a study of 132 adolescents who were told they would receive mild electric shocks at specific moments.

The results showed that neurotic people were more nervous even when they knew there was no shock coming.

Professor Michelle Craske, the study’s first author, said:

“…these findings suggest that persons with high neuroticism would respond with appropriate fear to actual threatening events, but with additional unnecessary anxiety to surrounding conditions.

This type of responding may explain why neuroticism contributes to the development of pervasive anxiety.”

Professor Craske explained that her goal is to see what separates depression from anxiety and what unites them:

“Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand; we’re trying to learn what factors place adolescents at risk for the development of anxiety and depression, what is common between anxiety and depression, and what is unique to each.

We chose this age group because 16-to-19 is when anxiety and mood disorders tend to surge in prevalence.”

Many of the participants were already experiencing anxiety and depression before the study started, Professor Craske said:

“We assumed most would not be currently anxious or depressed and we would see who develops disorders over time.

We were surprised to see that more than 20 percent had a current or past anxiety disorder, and 30 percent had a current or past mood disorder at the start of the study.”

The study was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry (Craske et al., 2009).

The Social Resource That Fights Genetic Depression (M)

Some people are at greater risk of depression due to their genes, but this resource counters it.

Some people are at greater risk of depression due to their genes, but this resource counters it.

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These Speech Patterns Are Signs Of Depression, Suicide & Psychosis (M)

Speech analysis reveals the signs of depression, suicidal ideation and psychosis in people’s speech.

Speech analysis reveals the signs of depression, suicidal ideation and psychosis in people's speech.

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Ayahuasca And Mushrooms For Alcoholism And Depression

Ayahuasca for alcoholism and depression may be effective, according to a survey of almost 100,000 people.

Ayahuasca for alcoholism and depression may be effective, according to a survey of almost 100,000 people.

Ayahuasca — a psychedelic drug traditionally used in South America — may help treat depression and alcoholism, research suggests.

The survey of over 96,000 people around the world found that ayahuasca users reported higher well-being and lower problems with alcohol abuse.

Ayahuasca for alcoholism

Ayahuasca contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a powerful psychedelic that acts over a short period.

In the 60s it was known as the ‘businessman’s trip’ because its effects last between 5 and 15 minutes, instead of the hours resulting from LSD or magic mushrooms.

Dr Will Lawn, the study’s first author, said:

“These findings lend some support to the notion that ayahuasca could be an important and powerful tool in treating depression and alcohol use disorders.

Recent research has demonstrated ayahuasca’s potential as a psychiatric medicine, and our current study provides further evidence that it may be a safe and promising treatment.

It is important to note that these data are purely observational and do not demonstrate causality.

Moreover, ayahuasca users in this survey still had an average drinking level which would be considered hazardous.

Therefore, randomised controlled trials must be carried out to fully examine ayahuasca’s ability to help treat mood and addiction disorders.

However, this study is notable because it is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest survey of ayahuasca users completed to date.”

Mushrooms for alcoholism

Of over 96,000 people who answered the online survey, 527 people said they used ayahuasca, while 18,138 used magic mushrooms or LSD.

Most users of ayahuasca took it with a healer or shaman.

Professor Celia Morgan, who co-authored the study, said:

“Several observational studies have examined the long-term effects of regular ayahuasca use in the religious context.

In this work, long-term ayahuasca use has not been found to impact on cognitive ability, produce addiction or worsen mental health problems.

In fact, some of these observational studies suggest that ayahuasca use is associated with less problematic alcohol and drug use, and better mental health and cognitive functioning.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Lawn et al., 2017).

How Gardening Affects Mental Health (M)

This is the best evidence so far of gardening’s beneficial effects on mental health.

This is the best evidence so far of gardening's beneficial effects on mental health.

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Fast Food Linked To 51% Higher Depression Risk

Huge rise in depression risk is linked to eating certain types of foods.

Eating fast food is linked to a huge increase in depression risk.

Depression is linked to eating fast food, like hamburgers and pizzas as well as commercially produced cakes, research finds.

People who eat fast food — when compared to those that eat none — have a 51% higher depression risk, the scientists found.

More fast food = higher depression risk

There is also a so-called ‘dose-response effect’ for fast food.

Dr Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, the lead author of the study, explained:

“…the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression.”

The research showed that those eating the most fast food and commercial baked food were more likely to be:

  • less active,
  • single,
  • smokers,
  • working over 45 hours per week.

Fairy cakes, doughnuts and croissants also showed a strong link to depression, said Dr Sánchez-Villegas:

“Even eating small quantities is linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression.”

Fast food and depression study

The study involved 8,964 people who were followed for an average of 6 months.

Of these, 493 started taking antidepressants during the study or were diagnosed with depression.

The results are in line with a previous study which found that eating fast food was linked to a 42% increase in depression risk.

Dr Sánchez-Villegas said:

“…although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being.”

Diets that prevent depression

Certain nutrients are thought to have a preventative effect on depression.

These include B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet has also been repeatedly linked to lower levels of depression.

It is more difficult to get these vital nutrients from fast food.

The study was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition (Sánchez-Villegas et al., 2012).

Sleep Deprivation Treatment For Depression Works In 24 Hours

Thirty years worth of research reveals that 50 percent of people benefit from sleep deprivation treatment for depression.

Thirty years worth of research reveals that 50 percent of people benefit from sleep deprivation treatment for depression.

Sleep deprivation treatment can rapidly reduce the symptoms of depression, 30 years of research suggests.

Around half of people with depression who are sleep deprived under controlled, inpatient conditions feel better quickly.

Many see improvements in just 24 hours, in comparison to the weeks it can take for antidepressants to start working.

Wake therapy

‘Wake therapy’, as it is sometimes called, involves staying awake all night and the next day.

Around 50% of people find their depression improves — until they sleep again.

There is evidence that staying awake for half the night, instead of the whole night, can be effective.

The problem, however, is that the therapy is not a long-term solution.

People typically feel depressed again after one full night’s sleep.

Sometimes taking a nap is enough for the depression to return.

However, the technique can help bridge the gap until antidepressants start working.

Wake therapy is sometimes referred to as a ‘response inducer’ or accelerator.

In other words, it is used when the patient needs a very quick release.

Sleep deprivation treatment for depression research

The conclusions come from a new review of 66 studies carried out over 36 years.

Dr Philip Gehrman, a study author, said:

“More than 30 years since the discovery of the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation, we still do not have an effective grasp on precisely how effective the treatment is and how to achieve the best clinical results.

Our analysis precisely reports how effective sleep deprivation is and in which populations it should be administered.”

They found that around half of people who were depressed responded to sleep deprivation.

It didn’t matter whether or not they were taking medication, what age or gender they were, or even the method of sleep deprivation used.

Dr Elaine Boland, the study’s first author, said:

“These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations.

Regardless of how the response was quantified, how the sleep deprivation was delivered, or the type of depression the subject was experiencing, we found a nearly equivalent response rate.”

The study was published in the The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Boland et al., 2017).

This Light Activity Can Reduce Your Depression Risk By 44%

Discover the alarming rise in depression linked to sedentary behaviour.

Discover the alarming rise in depression linked to sedentary behaviour.

Being too sedentary is linked to an increased risk of depression, research confirms.

Young people who are too sedentary through adolescence are more likely to experience depression as adults.

Even relatively light activity, like walking around, is enough to reduce the risk of depression.

Each additional hour of light activity at 12-years-old reduces depression symptoms by 10 percent at 18-years-old, researchers found.

For adults, sedentary behaviour may be just as dangerous for mental health.

One study has found that just one hour of exercise a week reduces the chances of developing depression by a massive 44 percent.

Mr Aaron Kandola, the study’s first author, said:

“Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18.

We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial.”

The conclusions come from a study of 4,257 adolescents, whose movement was tracked for a few days while they were 12, 14 and 16.

They were also asked about the classic symptoms of depression, including loss of pleasure, low mood and problems with concentration.

The results revealed that sedentary behaviour was linked to depression.

Unfortunately, young people became considerably less active as they were tracked through adolescence.

This is a long-term trend, said Mr Kandola:

“Worryingly, the amount of time that young people spend inactive has been steadily rising for years, but there has been a surprising lack of high quality research into how this could affect mental health.

The number of young people with depression also appears to be growing and our study suggests that these two trends may be linked.”

Dr Joseph Hayes, study co-author, said:

“A lot of initiatives promote exercise in young people, but our findings suggest that light activity should be given more attention as well.

Light activity could be particularly useful because it doesn’t require much effort and it’s easy to fit into the daily routines of most young people.

Schools could integrate light activity into their pupils’ days, such as with standing or active lessons.

Small changes to our environments could make it easier for all of us to be a little bit less sedentary.”

The study was published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry (Kandola et al., 2020).

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