For the clinical trial - the first of its kind - the Imperial researchers gave psilocybin to 19 patients suffering from depression in two doses.
Immediately after treatment, the patients reported feeling a drop I depressive symptoms, including stress relief and brighter moods.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans showed reduced activity in certain parts of the brain after taking the drug.
Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial, who led the study, said: "We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments".
"Several of our patients described feeling "reset" after the treatment and often used computer analogies". Also, as they noted in the study, a sample size of 19 people is not almost enough to validate an effective treatment method, especially since there was no control group with which to compare the effects of psilocybin.
In clinical trials over the years, psychedelics such as mushrooms have shown to be promising in treating depression and addictions, The Guardian reports. The improvement in their condition also lasted for as long as five weeks. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been "defragged" like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt "rebooted".
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In the study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, patients with treatment-resistant depression were given a 10mg and 25mg doses of psilocybin seven days apart.
'Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary "kick-start" they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a "reset" analogy. "Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy". They included the amygdala, a small almond-shaped region known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear. "They also found increased stability in another brain network, previously linked to psilocybin's immediate effects as well as to depression itself".
These new findings could provide insight into what happens to people when they "come down" from a high after using a psychedelic, the researchers say.
That's according to a new study that found that the drug psilocybin, found in mushrooms, can "reset" the brain's circuits and help ease symptoms.
Carhart-Harris's team warned that people should not attempt to self-medicate with psychedelic drugs.
Professor David Nutt, Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences, and senior author of the paper, added: "Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients".
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