Although people suffering with depression can sometimes go off the rails when it comes to sizing up what others are really trying to convey through non-verbal social cues, like facial expressions, a new study suggests that psilocybin-based treatments may be able to help these folks more accurately process their emotions and live a life less paranoid.
Researchers in the United Kingdom believe that psilocybin, otherwise known as Magic Mushrooms, might provide depressed people with a trapdoor to a more functional existence. Their study, which was published in the latest issue of the journal Psychopharmacology, finds that psilocybin seems to help those living with treatment-resistant depression feel less threatened by social cues than they otherwise would without the drug.
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Psilocybin, which is typically used as a recreational gateway to unexplored parts of the mind, has been gaining some recognition over the past several years for its therapeutic benefits. This psychedelic substance has a unique power, in that it has the ability to completely alter a person’s perception of their surroundings in a way that, in some cases, changes them forever.
Researchers say depressed people often put a negative spin on view social cues, partly because their serotonin levels are out of whack. But psilocybin seems to help balance them out.
While only a small study, the latest exploration into the potential medicinal application of this mind–altering substance shows that it can help depression patients see the reality in facial expressions rather than manifesting some mental translation for which there is no basis.
Researchers found that those patients who consumed psilocybin were able to distinguish the difference between facial expressions showing happiness, anger and fear. Those subjects who did not receive the treatment showed no noticeable signs of improvement.
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“This study found generalized improvements in emotional face processing after psilocybin for treatment-resistant major depression that correlated with reduced anhedonia [inability to feel pleasure],” researchers wrote, adding that additional research is necessary.
Depression is extremely common. Around 3 million cases are reported every year in the United States alone. Some people respond famously to traditional treatments, while others not so much. For these folks, most of whom cannot find enjoyment in anything life has to offer, it can be an uphill battle just trying to find a spot in the world where they feel comfortable. Yet, the latest study showed significant improvements in anhedonia scores in those patients given psilocybin. Researchers say treatment begins in a depressed patient’s ability to better recognize facial expressions.