Anxiety disorders top the list of America’s mental illnesses, affecting 18 percent of the U.S. population. Yet, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, only a third of its sufferers receive treatment for it. Meanwhile, the association reports that 3 to 5 percent of the population is dealing with depression at any given time—and nearly half of these people are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. According to a new study, the solution could come to some in the form of “magic” mushrooms.
The study, published recently in the journal Biological Psychiatry, adds to the growing pile of research that suggests psilocybin—the bioactive ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms—may have positive effects on mental health.
Researchers at the Psychiatric University Hospital of Zurich looked at psilocybin’s impact on the amygdala, which plays a central role in the brain’s limbic system by processing anxiety, fear and other negative emotions. Depression and anxiety disorders can result from an imbalance here:
“When emotions are unable to be processed correctly, it can trigger mental disorders. When the amygdala responds to stimuli with intense activity, it can lead to the strengthening of negative signals and weakening the positive ones,” according to PsychCentral.com.