- Mental Illness
- Can Magic Mushrooms Cause Anxiety and Mental Illness?
- Can I Self-treat with Magic Mushrooms
Many people struggle with illness and anxiety. These struggles limit their activities and the enjoyment they get out of life. However, psychedelics like magic mushrooms have been studies and their potential in treating mental illness and anxiety seem promising.
The term “mental illness” covers a wide range of mental health conditions. Basically, these are disorders that have a significant effect on your mood, thinking, and behavior. Some of the most common examples of mental illness are depression, anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders.
Although most people have mental health concerns from time to time, these turn into mental illness when persistent signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and disable you from functioning normally. Mental illness causes misery in facets of one’s daily life such as school, work, and/or relationships.
Signs and symptoms can vary depending on the exact disorder. Some examples include feeling down, confusion, excessive fear, difficulty to concentrate, extreme mood changes, distancing from friends and activities, lack of energy, delusions, inability to cope with stress, changes in sex drive, hostility, and even suicidal thinking.
In some instances, mental illness can present physical problems too such as headache, stomachache, and other unexplained body pains. Generally, mental illnesses are caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Some mental illnesses are inherited, some are caused by exposure toxins, and some depend on one’s brain chemistry.
Although anxiety is a normal part of life, people with anxiety disorders have intense, excessive, and persistent worry about daily situations. Anxiety disorders have recurrent episodes of sudden and intense anxiety. They interfere with daily activities, and are difficult to control.
Common signs and symptoms are restlessness, tension, a sense of impending danger, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, and inability to concentrate.
The causes of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood but traumatic events in one’s life can trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Genetic traits can also be a factor.
Can Magic Mushrooms Cause Anxiety and Mental Illness?
People’s opinions about magic mushrooms are usually divided into two. On one hand, magic mushroom fans say shrooms can usher in transcendence and peace of mind. On the other hand, there are others who keep calling back to the stigma of the 60s, when psychedelics were linked to the counterculture movement, and blamed magic mushrooms for a decline in mental health.
However, fears about magic mushrooms are overblown. Researchers have conducted recent experiments with magic mushrooms and have come away impressed with their potential to treat some forms of mental illness and anxiety in patients with terminal illness and the general population.
As for the question “can magic mushrooms cause anxiety and mental illness?” the key takeaway from these studies is:
“We failed to find any associations between lifetime use of psychedelics and past year serious psychological distress, receiving or needing mental health treatment, depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts or behavior in the past year. Rather, lifetime use of psychedelics was associated with decreased inpatient psychiatric treatment.”
Consistent with these research findings, using psychedelic shrooms decreases the likelihood of psychological decrease by 19%; suicidal thinking by 14%; suicidal planning by 29%; and suicide attempt by 36%.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Magic mushrooms contain the compound psilocybin. Psilocybin causes magic mushrooms users to hallucinate and it may hold the key to their therapeutic advantages.
As far back as the 1960s and early 70s, researchers such as Harvard’s Timothy Leary enthusiastically promoted the study of magic mushrooms and championed their potential benefits for psychiatry. Over the past few years, research regarding magic mushrooms have gone back into full swing.
New research has indicated the controlled, low doses of the magic mushrooms may be effective in treating depression and anxiety.
In an interesting study published in Experimental Brain Research, mice dosed with magic mushrooms reduced their outward signs of fear. The rodents in the study were conditioned to associate a particular sound with the feeling of being electrocuted. All the mice used to freeze in fear when the sound was played even if the shocking equipment was turned off. However, mice who were given low doses of the drug stopped freezing. They were able to separate the stimuli and negative experiences of pain more easily.
Of course, mice cannot talk so they can’t really explain how they felt. A handful other studies were conducted to demonstrate the effects of magic mushrooms on a more chatty group of subjects – humans.
The Archives of General Psychiatry published a study which found low doses of psilocybin improved the moods and reduced the anxiety of 12 late-stage terminal cancer patients aged 36 to 58 who suffer from depression and failed to respond to conventional medications.
Each patient was given either a pure dose of psilocybin or a placebo, and asked to report their levels of depression and anxiety at different times over the next few months. Patients who have been dosed with psilocybin had lower anxiety levels by the 9th week and levels of depression were also reduced. By carefully administering low doses, the research participants didn’t have any negative experiences while under the influence.
A longer-running study was conducted by a research group from Johns Hopkins and their findings seem the most promising of all.
36 volunteers who have never tried hallucinogens were given a dose of psilocybin and 60% of them reported having a “full, mystical experience.” 14 months later, the majority of these participants reported higher levels of well-being than before and ranked taking psilocybin as one of the most significant experiences of their lives.
In 2011, the same team conducted a different study with a separate group. Based on the findings, people who took psilocybin were more open to new ideas and feelings.
Here’s a story about a women who was being treated with mushrooms when she was facing death:
Norbert Litzinger went to the medical center to pick up his wife, Pam Sakuda, after her first session and saw a formerly-distressed woman who was now “glowing from the inside out.”
Before Pam died, she described her experience with psilocybin on video. “I felt this lump of emotions welling up… almost like an entity,” said Pam as she spoke straight into the camera. “Everything was concentrated and came welling up and then… it started to dissipate, and I started to look at it differently. I began to realize that all of this negative fear and guilt was such a hindrance to making the most of and enjoying the healthy time that I’m having.”
Pam went on to explain that when she was under the influence of psilocybin, she understood the value of the present better.
In Pam Sakuda’s group, their scores on the anxiety scale at one and three months after treatment demonstrated a sustained reduction in anxiety. Their scores on the Beck Depression Inventory dropped significantly at the sixth-month follow-up.
What’s remarkable about the results of these studies is that they show even a dose of the psychedelic substance can create long-lasting results in reducing anxiety, and depression.
So to answer the question above: No. Magic mushrooms do not cause anxiety and mental illness.
Can I Self-treat with Magic Mushrooms
Self-treating with magic mushrooms may not be a good idea without supervision or if you’re not experienced in taking magic mushrooms.
One of the factors that contributed to the positive result of the studies was the oversight and guidance participants received throughout the experience.
However, you can replicate these research settings. If you want to experience the therapeutic effects of psilocybin, here are some tips:
- Start with a low dose. As seen in the studies mentioned above, the research participants were given low doses of psilocybin yet they were able to enjoy the benefits months after taking the drug. This also lets your body adjust to the substance easier compared to taking a larger dose all at once.
- Stay in a comfortable, private environment. These studies were conducted in settings where the participants were able to ride out their psychedelic high. Make sure to remove dangerous objects in the areas just to be on the safe side.
- Enlist the services of a good trip sitter. A trip sitter is basically someone who stays sober while you go on your psilocybin journey. By having a trip sitter present, someone can watch over you and even help you process your perceptions.
By taking magic mushrooms responsibly and in a safe environment, you can also take advantage of their effects to help you deal better with the challenges life brings your way.
And there’s more. You can have magic truffles filled with psilocybin delivered to your doorstep. Order magic truffles online and witness how magic mushrooms can improve your mood.