Psychedelic experience may not be required for psilocybin’s antidepressant-like benefits

University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) researchers have shown that psilocybin — the active chemical in ‘magic mushrooms’ — still works its antidepressant-like actions, at least in mice, even when the psychedelic experience is blocked. The new findings suggest that psychedelic drugs work in multiple ways in the brain and it may be possible to deliver the fast-acting antidepressant therapeutic benefit without requiring daylong guided therapy sessions. A version of the drug without, or with less of, the psychedelic effects could loosen restrictions on who could receive the therapy, and lower costs, making the benefits of psilocybin more available to more people in need. In all clinical trials performed to date, the person treated with psilocybin remains under the care of a guide, who keeps the person calm and reassures them during their daylong experience. This can include hallucinations, altered perception of time and space, and intense emotional and spiritual encounters.