Psilocybin as Antidepressant: Quick Acting, Lasting Benefits

Depression is not simply a mood disorder, a feeling of sadness, or being ill at ease. Depression can completely shut a person down, manifesting as an inability to make decisions, to take action, to think. Even sleep is affected by depression.

Researchers and clinicians who treat depression are learning that the physical manifestations can be mirrored by internal, cellular changes. Some people with depression have decreases in their gray matter volume, particularly in areas like the hippocampus (important to memory, learning, and emotions) and prefrontal cortex (where higher-level thought and planning abilities are based).

Additionally, imaging has shown a decrease in the number of synapses—the structures through which electrical or chemical signals are passed between neurons and other cells—in persons with chronic depression. Without the signals that synapses transmit, brain function is disrupted.

And without intervention in depression, synapse decrease can continue.

While there are drugs and behavioral therapies to treat depression, these therapies can be slow to act and sometimes ineffective. In addition, once synaptic loss has occurred, these therapies are less effective.

In their August 2021 paper, “Psilocybin induces rapid and persistent growth of dendritic spines in frontal cortex in vivo” (1), Shao et al. state,

“It has long been recognized that these compounds (serotonergic psychedelics like psilocybin) may have therapeutic potential for neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction”.

Continue reading “Psilocybin as Antidepressant: Quick Acting, Lasting Benefits”

Walking the Dog, Prefrontal Cortex Engaged

A favorite walk: the dog park.

A friend and I were recently at a local dog park, walking his Sheltie and Australian shepherd, and my two standard poodles. Our dogs are not daily visitors to the dog park, and while his dogs are well-behaved and subtle in their approach to other dogs, my poodles’ enthusiasm is not always in their best interest.

In addition, one of my dogs seems to take issue with certain of the protection dog breeds,  like German Shepherds, as well as some of the sled dog breeds. Generally, if a dog has pointed ears, I am on the alert for bad behavior.

For that matter, the protection dogs don’t seem to much care for fluffy, bouncy poodles. Annoying, you know? A dog’s trying to keep order and make the world safe, and here comes that poodle, bouncing along without a care in the world. There’s a lot of danger out there and the poodles are simply not paying attention. They jog along meeting people and dogs like they are running for mayor; darn poodles.

Occasionally it has seemed that the attitude problem is not exclusive to my dog.

People often say, “Oh, standard poodles are such smart dogs”. But you’d think a smart dog would not choose a big, guard dog breed with which to make trouble. Continue reading “Walking the Dog, Prefrontal Cortex Engaged”