Advances in psychedelic research have found that psilocybin mushrooms may be able to treat mental conditions such as depression, cancer-related psychological stress and substance use disorders. Psilocybin-assisted therapy typically involves going through a guided psilocybin experience and using talk therapy to integrate the insights and realizations made during the experience into everyday life.
This kind of treatment has proven that it can alleviate mental disorders including depression, but many patients aren’t keen on going through what might be an hours long psilocybin trip. While some people simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of being under the influence of a drug, others can be held back by anxiety. Some can develop intense feelings of anxiety during psychedelic trips, which can significantly reduce the quality of the experience even making it quite unpleasant.
Fortunately, this intense anxiety is often temporary, and patients can use psilocybin-assisted therapy to alleviate anxiety-related symptoms for the long-term. According to neuroscientist Natasha Mason, some people feel anxious during psychedelic trips because of glutamate level changes in different brain regions. The researcher found that people who experience anxiety and have bad trips often have higher glutamate levels in the medial prefrontal cortex.
Furthermore, lower glutamate levels in the hippocampus were associated with positive ego dissolution. Ego dissolution refers to the decoupling of the medial temporal lobe and the default mode network and can result in either anxiety or feelings of oneness and unity. Anxious ego dissolution can cause generalized anxiety, excessive vigilance and paranoia.
The presence of neurotic personality traits can also increase a patient’s likelihood of experiencing anxiety during a psilocybin trip. Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London found that neuroticism resulted in more challenging and anxiety-ridden psychedelic experiences.
A study analyzing the role of neuroticism in psychedelic trips found that higher levels of neuroticism caused more intense feelings of anxiety compared to lower levels of neuroticism. The researchers discovered that neuroticism increases the risk of feelings such as anxiety, depression, irritability and anger.
The study also found that age can determine the presence and intensity of anxiety during psilocybin trips. Data from the King’s College London study indicated that older people had less anxiety and more pleasant psychedelic experiences compared to younger individuals. This may be due to the benefits associated with advanced age, such as better coping skills for challenging experiences. Factors such as environment, dose and mind set can also determine whether you experience anxiety during a psychedelic trip.
As companies such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) gather more data during their psychedelic drug-development activities, more insights could be revealed about the nuances observed in how different people react during psychedelic-assisted therapy.
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