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Mental Health

    • 7 posts
    September 23, 2022 7:28 AM EDT

    Can psychedelics rewire a depressed, anxious brain?

    Growing research into hallucinogenic drugs is demonstrating that—contrary to what was previously believed—depression and anxiety cannot be reduced to a simple equation of chemicals in the brain. So, will psychedelics be able to bring a decisive paradigm shift to how we view and treat these mental health conditions?

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people worldwide are estimated to experience depression and a similar number of people are thought to live with anxiety. As people often experience such mental health conditions simultaneously, which is referred to as comorbidity, and many do not seek treatment, the real number likely is a lot higher.

    Until now, researchers’ approach to treating anxiety and depression has largely focused on striking a delicate balance between chemical messengers in the brain. The plethora of medications prescribed, such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)Trusted Source all work around that principle.

    Studies on hallucinogenic compounds, however, have shown that such drugs can help the neurons in the brain “talk with each other” via neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers. This has led to the emergence of the “network theory.”