Join 3,374 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Anecdotally... yup
June 10, 2013 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Could Magic Mushrooms Be Used to Treat Anxiety and Depression?
posted by showbiz_liz (63 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anecdotally, I just used some last week to get past a lingering three month bout of depression. I'd been doing all the CBT and the other right stuff, but the depression just hung on - I felt mentally alright but felt like I was just not producing serotonin.

Kind of pleased my gut guesses about 'shrooms being useful have some backing.

Not feeling blah anymore, actually laughing (and crying - friend's death) this week instead of being the zombie I'd been for the past few months.
posted by _paegan_ at 2:07 PM on June 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yes. But I think that LSD would do the same thing, and be a bit "safer", if you know what I mean.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was depressed and hard to be around but I ate a ton of mushrooms and now I'm a fungi.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2013 [66 favorites]


It’s difficult to ask a tortured mouse why exactly it feels less fearful (and presumably even more difficult when that mouse is in the midst of a mushroom trip).

Strictly speaking, it's not difficult to ASK. But some scientists just come from "guess culture", I suppose.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2013 [33 favorites]


I eyee fiindd tha mershoomersrooo "R goooood fourr maakkkkKING thou mushyyh headd..
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 2:15 PM on June 10, 2013


Well.. anecdotally heroin is the by a huge margin the most effective antidepressant/antianxiety medication I have ever used. Doesn't mean it's necessarily the best option. It's like the way Craig Ferguson has the running joke of "may I suggest.. heroin!", he knows as any active/recovering addict that it's wildly effective.. but to suggest it is.. a joke.
posted by mediocre at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


As someone who has done both LSD and psilocybin (and amanita muscaria... But we'll disregard that for now) I must say that both have their benefits, but psilocybin, from my experience is better "for the road ahead."

Anytime I've done LSD, the days afterwords I've felt like a new man and with a new viewpoint on life. But with psilocybin, I felt like life itself had changed, in a way, so the "new man" feeling almost permeated something deeper and longer lasting.

Also FWIW, you can't play beer pong on LSD as well as you can shrooms.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those who’d been dosed with psilocybin had lower anxiety levels at one and three months

In my experience, if you're prone to anxiety, you might have slightly different results at one and three hours.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


It’s difficult to ask a tortured mouse why exactly it feels less fearful (and presumably even more difficult when that mouse is in the midst of a mushroom trip).

Clearly the problem is that the researchers are not stoned.
posted by goethean at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also Special K (ketamine).
posted by Rock Steady at 2:25 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Could Magic Mushrooms Be Used to Treat Anxiety and Depression?

Yes. I'm also available for the clinical trial. Just sayin'...
posted by Thorzdad at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah of course they can treat depression and anxiety. Isn't this fairly common knowledge? I'm surprised to see this on Metafilter as some sort of unusual topic.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


How do we even know they were really mice? Maybe they just thought they were mice.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


I guess this is news because it was an animal study?
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on June 10, 2013


There was a guy on the bus last night going on about "the hallucinogenic fungus that's in 95% of American food." He didn't seem too happy about it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It absolutely infuriates me that things like this, and marijuana, are illegal when they have so many health benefits and so few side effects. Like millions of people, I have loved ones who are painfully/ineffectually/expensively enmeshed in the medical-industrial complex because they aren't allowed and the penalties are steep. Hell, I've had a rather difficult run during the last decade or two, I would benefit from these as well. Not in Virginia, son. Not in my lifetime or yours in Virginia.

(posted from work in between random drug tests)
posted by headnsouth at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah. Always thought this was a bit of a given. The trick, as said above, is to handle the actual ordeal when suffering from anxiety or depression. Speaking only for myself, never had a bad trip and I'm a very anxious/depressed person as a matter of course. But the set portion of set and setting matters a lot.

The problem, as I see it, is hanging on to the afterglow. Initially after a mushroom trip, my sense of well-being and connectedness to the moment/life in general is improved, but that fades with time. I have strong memories of beauty and honesty and openness that can't ever be taken from me thanks to the use of mushrooms and LSD, but I think it's folly to use them solely to handle these issues. The ongoing work of therapy is required. No magic bullet, is what I'm saying.

But yeah, clinical trials, please.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Set is important as always, as hinted by evidenceofabsence.

John's Hopkins University is doing a survey on bad psilocybin trips.

It seems almost anything will relieve depression, in the short term.
Even stuff like old-school electroshock therapy.
posted by the Real Dan at 2:40 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


If that worked, I'd be surrounded by self-actualized people possessing infinite compassion. This is not a long term solution for anything. You might think you've solved something, then morning brings deeper anxiety. And you are still you.

Anxiety is a clue.

Drugs work until they don't.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I will take mushrooms before my next therapy appointment and report my findings back here.
posted by orme at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


You might think you've solved something, then morning brings deeper anxiety.

Has that been your experience with psilocybin?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Drugs work until they don't."

posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:41 PM on June 10

Well nobody is advocating the use of drugs exclusively. I thought it was common knowledge that even with standard legal psychoactive drugs, therapy in conjunction yields the best results.

Speaking from personal experience using mushrooms outside of the context of therapy, I'll say that deeper anxiety is never an issue. Only a distant melancholy once the afterglow has faded that I can't feel that good again. But a pervasive sense of well-being always hangs around after the fact for me. Again, that's why therapy in conjunction with the drug is so important. The drug isn't a crutch. It's the key to a door that you have to learn to keep open yourself.

Sorry if you've had a poor experience though. That sucks.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 2:53 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Drugs work until they don't.

That's exactly what happens with legal anxiety/depression meds, plus with bonus crap side effects. Why hold currently illegal drugs to a higher standard than the legal ones?
posted by headnsouth at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


I would imagine it wouldn't work for any amateur just popping a dose. I learned many years ago that I can successfully reprogram my mind while under the influence.

It was a little rocky for the first few hours, since I was dealing with a three month bout of depression. But knowing what I was getting into and having a plan helped me past the intense emotional part. I leaked a lot from my eyes, despite having no tears for months. The effect didn't suddenly pop up the next day. I spent a few days resting and slowly, but surely, feeling better. I'd have to say I'm out of this bout of depression.

I don't imagine it will cure my depression forever, but it was nice to have something to help me past the last hurdle.
posted by _paegan_ at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


sounds to me like prescribing alcohol for dizziness, but if it doesn't render others a quivering ball of anxiety then god bless 'em.
posted by jpe at 2:57 PM on June 10, 2013


Anecdotally, I know a few people who are fond of psychedelics. They're also, coincidentally, kind of depressive and anxious people, when they're not stoned. Yet they'd be the first to swear that psychedelics have helped overcome their anxiety and/or depression, because they are so impaired by their mental health issues when they're not self-medicating that anything feels better than their default state.
posted by deathpanels at 3:00 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


stuff like old-school electroshock therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is something that horrifies people based on pre-existing bias after seeing any number of movies that dramatize the use of it.

But modern day ECT is at least effective enough to rationalize the use of. I have known more then a couple people who specifically sought it out after initial treatments proved to have a huge net benefit. And the "old-school" ECT that people remember from movies.. doesn't exist. I mean, yeah.. the initial forms it took were archaic and frightening to read descriptions of.. but it was still done within a controlled environment.

Really though, just about everything on the planet will be able to test to have net positive effects over placebo in at least one study. Depression is a bastard like that, there's no magic pill, but people will still reach and believe some treatments work because of the placebo effect. I've talked with people who paid $500, multiple times, to have a "doctor" in Japan place a piece of paper with something Japanese written on it in front of their webcam, while the patient puts a cup of water in front of their computer screen for 15 minutes. They then drink the water. They swore up and down it worked better then any traditional therapy.

Oh, DISTILLED water, just so theres no mistake. I mean, tap water, that's just ridiculous to think would have any effect..
posted by mediocre at 3:08 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno how helpful they are for the long term, but I sure miss having a nice big handful all to myself. Eat some, save some for next time. I never did anything terrible under the influence of psychedelic substances. Unlike my buddy Gary - way back in the day, we were all set to hang out all night in the Greenbelt (in Austin) and eat our mushrooms. Probably 1995 or so. We had our limited provisions in a backpack and all was well for about the first 30 minutes, until Gary decided he HAD TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW. I was like, "WTF? There is NO way I'm driving this effed-up through the jurisdiction of at least 3 separate law enforcement agencies to get your crazy ass back to west campus". But in the end, I did. I remember driving very carefully, making sure the number on my speedometer matched the number on the six signs I'd see every so often, and then Gary decided it was a good time to crank the radio and take off his seatbelt and hang his entire upper torso out the passenger side window for some 'air'. That was a freaky moment - pulling off the road on 360 for anything but legit car trouble is a dicey proposition on a Friday night in Austin. I had some trouble with my blinker (which direction? Left seemed appropriate but bad for some reason) but I made it to the shoulder and told Gary that if he wanted to make it home and not to 7th street, he would sit down, shut up, put on his seat belt and not touch anything for the next 12 minutes or so. We made it, but it did absolutely jack crap for my anxiety at the time. Gary also was mad that I yelled at him during his trip, justified or not.
posted by PuppyCat at 3:29 PM on June 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I definitely think I accidentally (as in, I had no idea there was even a theory that it would help, nor was I especially aware how badly I was depression-spiraling each time, so there was no deliberation to it) "rebooted" several times in my 20s with extremely sporadic psychedelic use. Each time did the job for about 18-24 months.

I know there have been some encouraging limited human trials for PTSD treatment, but I hope that animal testing means that there will one day be accurate dosage information. Because I am now way, way too old to want to trip any harder and for any longer than might be necessary to get the year or two of relief.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was a gentleman doctor who used to frequent the cafes of Venice Beach in the late 90s who had a 'memorable' perspective on mushrooms (and peyote and marijuana).

His point (basically) was that if the same amount of money went into research, testing, product development, packaging, distribution, marketing, and sales of natural mood adjusters as went into synthetic (pharmaceuticals), we would have a myriad of options with similar efficacy and much lower toxicity.

He would then go into conspiracy theory ideas of supply chain economics (chemical inputs are cheaper than agricultural inputs) and patents, and that's where I kind of lost him.

But I always thought he did have an interesting point. I've known quite a few people who enjoyed the good old magic mushroom, and were very well adjusted individuals. I don't think it's surprising. From what it sounds like, magic mushrooms seem to provide the user with a very example that reality is malleable. That, in fact, there is no real-world, rather everything is subject to interpretation. If a mushroom can show the user things that are not there, what does that tell us about the things that are?

All the chemicals we ingest modify our perceptions of reality, but perhaps in such subtle ways that perhaps it's hard to see. Anyone who has undertaken a serious fast may have experienced the sensory acuity that comes along with caloric restriction. It alters the velocity of time itself. And that comes from ingesting nothing. Surely, everything else ingested will have an impact, but it may not be noticeable.

Then there's mushrooms. Which sound like the give the user a real disconnect from reality. If one were depressed – as mentioned – the effects may be not dissimilar for electroshock or anti-depressants. The difficult aspect of depression is the belief that the next moment will be like the last; that there is a permanence and hopelessness to the despair. That indeed, this is how it is.

Mushrooms sound like they handily undo that, by offering a new reality what "this is how it is" no longer applies. Therefore I don't think it's surprising that there may be mental health benefits.

Which begs the gentleman doctor's point, what if the same amount of resources went into creating natural cures? People demand their food is organic, their cotton is fair-trade, their energy is renewable. Why is it not a logical extension that their mental health drugs should be natural as well.
posted by nickrussell at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Question then becomes, is the mouse anxiety the good kind of anxiety native to dumb animals or the life debilitating mortgage payment anxiety endemic among higher primates? Or is there a even a difference other than duration and degree?

I ask as a non-scientist and non-druggie who knows only what I hear from Prof. Sapolsky.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2013


Has that been your experience with psilocybin?

Never did a low dose like the article is suggesting. I suspect none of you miscreants did either.

Everything is still there when you come down. The chair is still made of wood. Maybe you have a new relationship with wood, but does it matter? Does wood care? Does your chair still love you when you come down? Do you still get splinters? How is that helpful, this phenomenal relationship you've forged with your new best friend Wood?

I saw certain people as lizards and I understood the universe as a repeating pattern of things revolving around other things. While that was nice, and somewhat accurate, there was no long-term effect. Still, I pursued it and continued to notice things that made me question whether there was anything to symbolism.

For me, getting rid of long term anxiety and depression was not a drug thing. It was a getting rid of toxic people thing. I did try the drugs available. I ate them up. Both lab and cowpie derived.

I found it a hell of a lot more useful to look at my relationships and dig a bit. It was pretty cool to notice that the ceiling had lips, but I couldn't get up there for a kiss. The chair wouldn't let me. Some help that was from my new best friend Wood.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:14 PM on June 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Related... MDMA Therapy.... previously, previously
Supporters of legalized MDMA therapy believe it can be applied in couples counseling and in treatment for depression, body-image disorders, chronic pain management, and end-of-life anxiety. But many advocates think its best chance at mainstream acceptance is as a tool for people with PTSD. Later this year, Michael Mithoefer, MD, a psychiatrist in Charleston, South Carolina, will publish the long-term follow-up results of the small pilot study that Sarah first heard about six years ago. The outcome: Seventeen of 20 subjects no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD after just two or three sessions of MDMA-aided therapy led by Mithoefer and his wife, Ann, a psychiatric nurse.
posted by snaparapans at 4:22 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


2-cb, 2-cb, 2-cb!
posted by Chuffy at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep. And yep. Psilocybin mushrooms are pretty much the only intoxicating substance I know of that has an inverse hangover; the next day you feel better. And happy and refreshed and reset. Haven't had them in years, and I hesitate to do much anything these days (such is the lot of parents), but I wouldn't hesitate much for shrooms, especially in a tiny dose.
posted by zardoz at 4:52 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously, does anyone actually wonder why these drugs are illegal?

Happy, fulfilled, self-actualised people are very, very, very bad for business.

Unless your business is Frito-Lay
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:28 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Psychedelic Academe: Research into mind-altering drugs is back.
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on June 10, 2013


Is Ecstasy the Key to Alleviating Autism Anxiety?
posted by homunculus at 5:32 PM on June 10, 2013


Which sound like the give the user a real disconnect from reality.

My experience is the exact opposite. Mushrooms seemed to wipe out my ego in a non-disturbing way, such that I was just... there, and everything was more or less perfect. (I probably already believed - and still do - that the world IS perfect, and can't be any other way, in spite of its various difficulties.) I have felt totally connected to everything, in a very positive and natural way. Oh, and I was completely cured! Of what, I have no idea.
posted by sneebler at 5:45 PM on June 10, 2013 [4 favorites]



That's exactly what happens with legal anxiety/depression meds, plus with bonus crap side effects. Why hold currently illegal drugs to a higher standard than the legal ones?


No it's not. And we're not talking about all illegal drugs. We're talking about Psilocybin. And the reason to hold that in a higher standard is because its much safer and often effective at addressing the source of anxiety than legal anxiety/depression meds which only suppress the issue.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2013


I was still feeling most unusual and had an uncontrollable urge to talk. . . and talk . . . and talk.
posted by michswiss at 6:00 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


2-cb, 2-cb, 2-cb! Organic is going to have fewer side effects with better documentation.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:46 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do we even know they were really mice? Maybe they just thought they were mice.

Or maybe the MICE...are the ones studying US, and WE'RE the mice.
posted by windbox at 7:17 PM on June 10, 2013


The secret ingredient is fun.
posted by Teakettle at 8:03 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember in my grade 7 planning class, I had to do a research project on a drug to show how "bad" it was to the whole class. My partner and I ended up choosing shrooms, and we could literally not find any negative side effects other than "you'll be judged socially." My teacher was hopping mad at the presentation we ended up with because she just kept trying to figure out how the drug would addict and dump you out on the streets and kill you, and we were just like, "uhh, not really" to every incredulous question she had.

We didn't get a very good mark on that assignment.
posted by Conspire at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


2c's led me to discover HPPD last year, mild enough to say it's still been worth it though.
posted by yoHighness at 8:57 PM on June 10, 2013


I know at least one person who was plunged into basically a decade of depression after a 'shroom trip.
posted by OmieWise at 5:53 AM on June 11, 2013


I know at least one person who was plunged into basically a decade of depression after a 'shroom trip.

Yes, and there was also that kid who thought he could fly and then jumped off the roof.

Anecdotes are fun!
posted by snottydick at 7:26 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find iron supplements help with my anxiety.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:22 AM on June 11, 2013


We have so many people with suicidal ideation from their antidepressants that it has to be a major warning before prescribing.
1 or 2 friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who thought they could fly and jumped out a window doesn't seem to compare.
posted by Theta States at 8:28 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, my many years of unfunded research have led me to the conclusion that of all hallucinogens participating in my studies, the 2c's have had the most beneficial and pleasant effects.
posted by elizardbits at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


mediocre: Really though, just about everything on the planet will be able to test to have net positive effects over placebo in at least one study.
Studies use controls that accommodate the placebo effect. It's very hard to imagine a human trial getting approval without such a control.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:01 AM on June 11, 2013


Mr. Yuck: Never did a low dose like the article is suggesting. I suspect none of you miscreants did either.
Actually, most of my experiences were sub-hallucinogenic doses. Since it was well over 20 years ago, I sadly can't recall if my mood improved when I came down.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:08 AM on June 11, 2013


Anecdotes are fun!

posted by snottydick


Eponysterical.
posted by OmieWise at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


2C-I consistently gave me splitting headaches about 50% of the time unfortunately. It was a pretty happy and sociable experience otherwise, though.
posted by invitapriore at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2013


I was going to do the "my friend" song and dance for a second there but I remembered that that horse has pretty much left the barn with respect to my comment history on MetaFilter. In fact that horse is so much out of the barn that it met some other horse and now has grown up children with which it prances gaily across the shimmering pastures of the internet.
posted by invitapriore at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I totally thought that was a horse too. The horn tipped me off.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:41 PM on June 11, 2013


theoretically and anectdotally, its possible that taking magic mushrooms with your friends while on SSRIs will briefly make you happy and wander around looking at the stars for awhile and then go back to normal with a headache and its possible, theoretically, that you'll wonder what the fuss is about but still have an amazing experiance but not have your life changed

possibly and anecdotally
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:10 PM on June 11, 2013



I know at least one person who was plunged into basically a decade of depression after a 'shroom trip.

Yes, and there was also that kid who thought he could fly and then jumped off the roof.


that just happened in sydney with synthetic LSD
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:14 PM on June 11, 2013


All LSD is synthetic. That's just a different chemical entirely.
posted by invitapriore at 9:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


'The worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo': Scientists call for drugs to be legalised to allow proper study of their properties
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


'Neurons to Nirvana' Makes the Case for Deeper Scientific Research Into Psychedelics
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on June 16, 2013


In other drug news: The Heart Perils of Pain Relievers
posted by homunculus at 10:44 PM on June 17, 2013


« Older There’s an old dream in game design. It drives the...  |  Morrisey? Dickens? The BBC? Ju... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments