Medical Research Psychedelics Science

The Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Psilocybin

Written by Della O’Brian

The world’s anxiety and depression rates are rising following the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic. While we were stuck inside, anxious, and missing the company of friends, our brains were frantically trying to make sense of an unprecedented situation (for modern humanity, at least). For those with pre-existing mental health disorders, their symptoms worsened as their old problems and their new problems collided in a melting pot of anxiety, depression, and worse.


Psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy

Medical research indicates that psilocybin-assisted therapy is an advanced treatment for mental health disorders. When performed under the observation of a medical professional, psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy can decrease rumination, which is often to blame for the cycle in which many patients stay stuck. [1]

When rumination is absent, anxiety and depression decrease. Moreover, patients’ perceptions shift due to the objective examination of the self on psilocybin. [2]

Patients who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are a prime example of the effects of rumination when they replay their traumatic events and how powerless they felt. When they look back, they feel like they are in a traumatic event. Their hormones respond to the perceived threat and trigger the fight-or-flight response, leaving patients feeling depleted and unable to respond appropriately to the stressful stimulus.

In a study by Lowe et al., patients with PTSD who attended psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy enhanced their response to the memories of their traumatic event. As a result, patients could make sense of and heal from trauma. Furthermore, the effects of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy have been observed as much as 14 months after a session, demonstrating its application as a long-lasting treatment for mental health disorders. [2]

Consequentially, society benefits from psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. When patients can better observe their lives and situations objectively, they are less likely to engage in criminal and violent behavior. Instead, patients exhibit increased altruism and pro-environmental behavior following treatment. [2]

Unfortunately, there are limitations to the applications of psilocybin therapy, one of which is who can receive the treatment. Health professionals should avoid administering psilocybin to those likely to have psychotic episodes.

Researchers remind patients that consuming psilocybin outside of a controlled, experimental environment will not provide the same results as psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy. The setting is key to psilocybin success because of a “bad trip” threat. Bad trips include panicky incidents and other undesirable experiences, detracting from therapy. Medical professionals can turn a bad trip around and ensure the patient feels safe so they can heal.



[1] Mertens LJ, Wall MB, Roseman L, Demetriou L, Nutt DJ, Carhart-Harris R. Therapeutic mechanisms of psilocybin: Changes in amygdala and prefrontal functional connectivity during emotional processing after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2020;34(2):167-180. doi: 10.1177/0269881119895520. [journal impact factor = 4.153; times cited = 23]


[2] Lowe H, Toyang N, Steele B, Valentine H, Grant J, Ali A, Ngwa W, Gordon L. The therapeutic potential of psilocybin. Molecules. 2021; 26(10):2948. [journal impact factor = 4.411; times cited = 5]

About the author

Della O’Brian

Leave a Comment