While psychedelic drugs show promise as treatments for depression, one concern is that the hallucinations accompanying a trip may trigger other psychological problems in some people. Now though, researchers studying the effects of LSD and psilocin on mice—found in magic mushrooms—have determined that the drugs' molecular mechanism that cause the psychedelic effects appears to be entirely separate than the way the compounds alleviate depression. That means it may be possible to develop drugs that can help with depression without requiring the patient to trip.
Senior author Eero Castrén, a neuroscientist at [the University of] Helsinki, believes his team's work may open up promising pathways for psychedelic-inspired antidepressants. But, "This will be quite a long journey," Castrén says. Even if such drugs seemed effective in animals, extensive human tests would be needed to confirm that revamped psychedelics both relieve depression and are not hallucinogenic. "It's not something that is going to happen in the next 5 years."