any insomnia patients have co-morbid depression that is resistant to treatment. Although psychotherapy and currently available antidepressant medications are ineffective in these individuals, recent controlled studies at major medical centers such as Johns Hopkins have documented groundbreaking results for the use of psychedelics such as psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. After just one treatment session, improvement and remission rates are double or triple those of SSRI medications. Because these are unprecedented improvements over currently available therapies, the FDA moved research on Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression into final Phase 3 stages with a rare “breakthrough therapy” designation. Psilocybin is also being tested for the treatment of addiction and cancer-related depression and anxiety. Although psychedelics can also produce a range of negative experiences including anxiety, they can occasion experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences in the majority of patients, with improvements in personality that may be permanent, when administered under controlled conditions.
What are the changes in brain activity produced by psychedelics that can result in dramatic remission rates in treatment-resistant depression and mystical-type experiences in the majority of patients? There is a general consensus that psychedelics exert their therapeutic effects by disabling the default mode network and suppressing ego functioning. However, the profound changes in awareness produced by psychedelics may be due primarily to disinhibition of older, more ancient brain regions and the core affective self that lies in these ancient brain networks.
For more information on the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of psychedelic states of awareness, click here