Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Psychedelic treatment of depression and anxiety

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Psychedelic treatment of depression and anxiety:
How can psychedelics help in treating depression and anxiety?
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Overview[edit | edit source]

Important points about this section:

  1. What is the problem and why is it important?
  2. How can specific motivation and/or emotion theories and research help?
  3. Consider providing an example or case study.
  4. Consider providing some focus questions.


Depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions among people today (Richards, 2011). Depression has been estimated to cost society hundreds of billions of dollars annually in both direct and indirect costs, but what is arguably more important is it is the cause of an extreme amount of human suffering and premature death. Depression can range in duration from a minor, short term episode to a chronic and debilitating lifelong condition.

The news is not all bad, as depression has been shown to be treatable, and while treatments have been discovered which show an effect, there remains much to be improved regarding the best ways to treat those suffering.


Despite not being introduced to western societies until relatively recently, psychedelic drugs are thought to have a long history of use within traditional and ancient cultures. In the 15th century, after establishing colonies in South America, the Spanish wrote about how the indigenous tribes conducted Ayahuasca ceremonies where powerful psychedelics were consumed, playing a vital role in their health and relationships, both within tribes and between tribes (Luna, 2011). In West Africa, Ibogaine is a psychedelic derived from tree bark and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years (George et al., 2020). In Central America, Peyote was used in similar ways and ceremonies utilising Magic Mushrooms were engaged in by the Aztecs and beyond. Similarities in cave paintings found in Africa, Australia and Europe suggests a ceremonial use of psychedelic mushrooms dating back tens of thousands of years (Akers et al., 2011; Pettigrew, 2011).


Much research is underway to investigate to what extent these ancient medicines can be used as powerful tools, assisting in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety today.




Akers, B. P., Ruiz, J. F., Piper, A., & Ruck, C. A. (2011). A prehistoric mural in Spain depicting neurotropic Psilocybe mushrooms?. Economic Botany, 65(2), 121-128.

Pettigrew, J. (2011). Iconography in Bradshaw b rock art: breaking the circularity. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 94(5), 403-417.

George, J. R., Michaels, T. I., Sevelius, J., & Williams, M. T. (2020). The psychedelic renaissance and the limitations of a White-dominant medical framework: A call for indigenous and ethnic minority inclusion. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 4(1), 4-15.

Luna, L. E. (2011). Indigenous and mestizo use of ayahuasca: an overview. The ethnopharmacology of ayahuasca, 2, 01-21.

Araújo, A. M., Carvalho, F., de Lourdes Bastos, M., De Pinho, P. G., & Carvalho, M. (2015). The hallucinogenic world of tryptamines: an updated review. Archives of Toxicology, 89(8), 1151-1173.

Richards, D. (2011). Prevalence and clinical course of depression: a review. Clinical psychology review, 31(7), 1117-1125.

Hofmann, A. (1970). The discovery of LSD and subsequent investigations on naturally occurring hallucinogens. Discoveries in biological psychiatry, 91-106.


Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Goodwin, G. M. (2017). The therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs: past, present, and future. Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(11), 2105-2113.


Focus questions:

  • What is the first focus question?
  • What is the second focus question?
  • What is the third focus question?

How effective is psychedelic therapy?[edit | edit source]

Content goes here.

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Goldberg, S. B., Pace, B. T., Nicholas, C. R., Raison, C. L., & Hutson, P. R. (2020). The experimental effects of psilocybin on symptoms of anxiety and depression: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, 284, 112749.

Vargas, A. S., Luís, Â., Barroso, M., Gallardo, E., & Pereira, L. (2020). Psilocybin as a New Approach to Treat Depression and Anxiety in the Context of Life-Threatening Diseases—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Biomedicines, 8(9), 331.

Ross, S., Bossis, A., Guss, J., Agin-Liebes, G., Malone, T., Cohen, B., ... & Su, Z. (2016). Rapid and sustained symptom reduction following psilocybin treatment for anxiety and depression in patients with life-threatening cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of psychopharmacology, 30(12), 1165-1180.

Carhart-Harris, R. L., Bolstridge, M., Day, C. M. J., Rucker, J., Watts, R., Erritzoe, D. E., ... & Rickard, J. A. (2018). Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up. Psychopharmacology, 235(2), 399-408.

Goldberg, S. B., Shechet, B., Nicholas, C., Ng, C. W., Deole, G., Chen, Z., & Raison, C. Post-acute psychological effects of classical serotonergic psychedelics: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

What are the neurological effects of psychedelics?[edit | edit source]

If a section has a lot of content, then consider structuring it into two to five sub-headings such as is shown here.



Carhart-Harris, R. L., Roseman, L., Bolstridge, M., Demetriou, L., Pannekoek, J. N., Wall, M. B., ... & Leech, R. (2017). Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-11.

Kometer, M., Pokorny, T., Seifritz, E., & Volleinweider, F. X. (2015). Psilocybin-induced spiritual experiences and insightfulness are associated with synchronization of neuronal oscillations. Psychopharmacology, 232(19), 3663-3676.

Biomedical Model[edit | edit source]

Serotonin Hypothesis[edit | edit source]

Frontal Lobe Activation[edit | edit source]

During The Experience[edit | edit source]

Serotonin Receptors[edit | edit source]

Preller, K. H., Duerler, P., Burt, J. B., Ji, J. L., Adkinson, B., Stämpfli, P., ... & Anticevic, A. (2020). Psilocybin induces time-dependent changes in global functional connectivity. Biological Psychiatry.

Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Nutt, D. J. (2017). Serotonin and brain function: a tale of two receptors. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(9), 1091-1120.

Changes in Brain Connectivity[edit | edit source]

Preller, K. H., Duerler, P., Burt, J. B., Ji, J. L., Adkinson, B., Stämpfli, P., ... & Anticevic, A. (2020). Psilocybin induces time-dependent changes in global functional connectivity. Biological Psychiatry.

Ly, C., Greb, A. C., Cameron, L. P., Wong, J. M., Barragan, E. V., Wilson, P. C., ... & Duim, W. C. (2018). Psychedelics promote structural and functional neural plasticity. Cell reports, 23(11), 3170-3182.

The Default Mode Network[edit | edit source]

Lebedev, A. V., Lövdén, M., Rosenthal, G., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2015). Finding the self by losing the self: Neural correlates of ego‐dissolution under psilocybin. Human brain mapping, 36(8), 3137-3153.

After The Experience[edit | edit source]

Frontal lobe[edit | edit source]

Mertens, L. J., Wall, M. B., Roseman, L., Demetriou, L., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2020). Therapeutic mechanisms of psilocybin: Changes in amygdala and prefrontal functional connectivity during emotional processing after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 34(2), 167-180.


Reintegration[edit | edit source]

Ly, C., Greb, A. C., Cameron, L. P., Wong, J. M., Barragan, E. V., Wilson, P. C., ... & Duim, W. C. (2018). Psychedelics promote structural and functional neural plasticity. Cell reports, 23(11), 3170-3182.


Amygdala Activation[edit | edit source]

Roseman, L., Demetriou, L., Wall, M. B., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2018). Increased amygdala responses to emotional faces after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Neuropharmacology, 142, 263-269.

Grimm, O., Kraehenmann, R., Preller, K. H., Seifritz, E., & Vollenweider, F. X. (2018). Psilocybin modulates functional connectivity of the amygdala during emotional face discrimination. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 28(6), 691-700.







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Tables[edit | edit source]

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Feature boxes[edit | edit source]

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Quiz questions[edit | edit source]

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  1. Can be used to help make a chapter more interactive.
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  3. Rather than presenting one longer quiz at the end, consider adding, say, one review quiz question per major section.
  4. Try to assess conceptual knowledge, rather than trivia.

Here are some simple example quiz questions:

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Approximately how many neurons are in the human brain?

1,000,000 (1 million)
10,000,000 (10 million)
100,000,000 (100 million)
1,000,000,000 (1 billion)
10,000,000,000 (10 billion)

2 A typical neuron fires ________ times per second.

1 to 4
5 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 199
200 to 499


What are the cognitive effects of psychedelics?[edit | edit source]

During The Experience[edit | edit source]

Hirschfeld, T., & Schmidt, T. T. (2020). How does it feel to be on psilocybin? Dose-response relationships of subjective experiences in humans. bioRxiv.

Mystical Experiences[edit | edit source]

Griffiths, R. R., Richards, W. A., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2006). Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance. Psychopharmacology, 187(3), 268-283.

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2011). Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects. Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649-665.

Ego Disolution[edit | edit source]

After The Experience[edit | edit source]

Goldberg, S. B., Shechet, B., Nicholas, C., Ng, C. W., Deole, G., Chen, Z., & Raison, C. Post-acute psychological effects of classical serotonergic psychedelics: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Sense of Connection[edit | edit source]

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs[edit | edit source]

Run through the theory, put pic of pyramid

How Psychedelics Help[edit | edit source]

Show evidence about a feeling of a better sense of connection to oneself and others, nature, the universe. Ego dissolution

Watts, R., Day, C., Krzanowski, J., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2017). Patients’ accounts of increased “connectedness” and “acceptance” after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of humanistic psychology, 57(5), 520-564.


Zeifman, R. J., Wagner, A. C., Watts, R., Kettner, H., Mertens, L. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2020). Post-Psychedelic Reductions in Experiential Avoidance Are Associated With Decreases in Depression Severity and Suicidal Ideation. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 782.

New Perspectives[edit | edit source]

Attribution Theory / Explanatory Style[edit | edit source]

Explain internal stable uncontrollable etc

Self Efficacy[edit | edit source]

Bandura


Negative interpretation of events?


How Psychedelics Help[edit | edit source]

Show research about the new perspectives, the people with addictions maybe etc


Lyons, T., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2018). Increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarian political views after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32(7), 811-819.

Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., Jesse, R., MacLean, K. A., ... & Klinedinst, M. A. (2018). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32(1), 49-69.


Lasting changes in personality. Openness to experience

MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1453-1461.


Erritzoe, D., Roseman, L., Nour, M. M., MacLean, K., Kaelen, M., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart‐Harris, R. L. (2018). Effects of psilocybin therapy on personality structure. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 138(5), 368-378.


Zeifman, R. J., Wagner, A. C., Watts, R., Kettner, H., Mertens, L. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. L. (2020). Post-Psychedelic Reductions in Experiential Avoidance Are Associated With Decreases in Depression Severity and Suicidal Ideation. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 782.


Quiz questions[edit | edit source]

Quiz questions are optional. Important points about using quizzes:

  1. Can be used to help make a chapter more interactive.
  2. To learn about different types of quiz questions, see Help:Quiz.
  3. Rather than presenting one longer quiz at the end, consider adding, say, one review quiz question per major section.
  4. Try to assess conceptual knowledge, rather than trivia.

Here are some simple example quiz questions:

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 Approximately how many neurons are in the human brain?

1,000,000 (1 million)
10,000,000 (10 million)
100,000,000 (100 million)
1,000,000,000 (1 billion)
10,000,000,000 (10 billion)

2 A typical neuron fires ________ times per second.

1 to 4
5 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 199
200 to 499



How important is incorporating therapy?[edit | edit source]

Helpful in incorporating the lessons etc etc. ETHICS TOO


Earleywine, M., & De Leo, J. (2020). Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for depression: How dire is the need? How could we do it?. Journal of Psychedelic Studies, 4(2), 88-92.

Carhart-Harris, R. L., Bolstridge, M., Day, C. M. J., Rucker, J., Watts, R., Erritzoe, D. E., ... & Rickard, J. A. (2018). Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: six-month follow-up. Psychopharmacology, 235(2), 399-408.

Risk of Harm[edit | edit source]

Anecdotal reports of dangerous effects etc have not been supported by the literature, safety profile etc etc. Non-toxic. Dangers are from behaviours etc


Set and Setting[edit | edit source]

Intense experience so one needs to be in a good place internally (set - mindset) and externally (setting - environment)



Microdosing[edit | edit source]

Kuypers, K. P. (2020). The therapeutic potential of microdosing psychedelics in depression. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 10, 2045125320950567.

Needs more research

Internal focus vs external?

Fadiman, J., & Korb, S. (2019). Might microdosing psychedelics be safe and beneficial? An initial exploration. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 51(2), 118-122.


Cameron, L. P., Benson, C. J., DeFelice, B. C., Fiehn, O., & Olson, D. E. (2019). Chronic, intermittent microdoses of the psychedelic N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) produce positive effects on mood and anxiety in rodents. ACS chemical neuroscience, 10(7), 3261-3270



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Conclusion[edit | edit source]

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The Golden Nugget - connection


See also[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

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Blair, R. J. R. (2004). The roles of orbital frontal cortex in the modulation of antisocial behavior. Brain and Cognition, 55(1), 198-208. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-2626(03)00276-8

Buckholtz, J. W., & Meyer-Lindenberg, A. (2008). MAOA and the neurogenetic architecture of human aggression. Trends in Neurosciences, 31(3), 120-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2007.12.006

Eckardt, M., File, S., Gessa, G., Grant, K., Guerri, C., Hoffman, P., & Tabakoff, B. (1998). Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on the central nervous system. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 22(5), 998-1040. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03695.x

External links[edit | edit source]

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