The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthoot and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
Study shows teens who have more friends may be less likely to suffer from depression as adults<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjgyODEyNn0.XrE4VbZm4h9pqGxE2OofGHyw-cD78SxZhbOSTPyTZPM/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="1e9e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="831359bc08f8626bb576f790b0b85836" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of teenage depression depression in adolescence" />
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
Image by asiandelight on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/msu-tsn093020.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 Michigan State University study</a> examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.</p><p>This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms. </p><p>MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September. </p><p><strong>Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</strong> </p><p>For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life.</p><p><em>"Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences..." </em>Copeland went on to explain: <em>"Compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."</em></p><p>Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys. </p><p>While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.</p><p>The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life. </p><p><strong>Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.</strong></p><p>The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s. </p>
How to stay social while battling depression<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ1MjA3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDMyNDY1N30.e1ULIJ5QYXh4H1SGUPUTJqYBCnX2XWp6InjPRr-2Bdw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C22%2C0%2C22&height=700" id="832fd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cd648a11ed282f800f2f86bc3f35daa4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="depression support group concept of depressive symptoms peer support group" />
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Image by Mascha Tace on Shutterstock<p>Although maintaining relationships can help you cope with depressive symptoms, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.</p> <p>Jennifer L. Payne, MD, Ph.D. (and assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explains to Everyday Health</a>: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation…" </p> <p>Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, staying active, etc.</p> <p><strong>Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action. </strong></p><p>While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day. </p> <p><strong>Support groups and social networking with people who understand. </strong></p><p>While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits. </p> <p><strong>Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished. </strong></p><p>Keeping a thought journal and detailing certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete. </p> <p><strong>Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good. </strong></p><p><a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/kindness-benefits-james-doty?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1596517476" target="_self">Being kind is good for your health</a> in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a <a href="https://www.quietrev.com/6-science-backed-ways-being-kind-is-good-for-your-health/#:~:text=Kindness%20releases%20feel%2Dgood%20hormones&text=Doing%20nice%20things%20for%20others,as%20a%20%E2%80%9Chelper's%20high.%E2%80%9D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">temporary sense of euphoria</a> that can help combat depressive symptoms. </p>
Americans lose an estimated 321 million work days every year due to anxiety and depression.
- Anxiety levels are increasing due to the pandemic and political uncertainty right now.
- Anxiety and depression cost the economy $50 billion in health care costs and lost work every year.
- These six books cover anxiety's physiology, environmental factors, and potential treatments.
You’re Wired for Anxiety. And You’re Wired to Handle It | Anne Marie Albano | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="006926deaed2698d42ef27cba83f173a"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mUv37ttgQVE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143109049?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety - Joseph Ledoux</a></h4><p>Neuroscientist Joseph Ledoux has written <em>the</em> go-to book for understanding everything about anxiety. How it arises in consciousness, its physiological manifestation, reshaping psychotherapy, environmental stressors—you name it. Ledoux argues that you must treat the outward symptoms <em>and</em> inner causes if you want to holistically address anxiety. He points out that uncertainty about the future (and how to prepare for it) is a common trigger for anxiety disorders, which puts 2020 into perspective. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Patients with panic disorder…have a hypersensitive suffocation alarm system, which falsely detects a dangerous level of CO2 and lead to hyperventilation, which in turn produces an actual rise in CO2 (due to short, fast inspiration). The resulting dizziness and light-headedness lead the person to misinterpret the physiological changes and worry and dread follow in the panic-stick person."</p><h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1101982934?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good For You, and How to Get Good At It - Kelly McGonigal</a></h4><p>Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal flips the anxiety script on its head in this inspiring and motivational work on the advantages of stress. Anxiety is part of life—we've known that since Freud, and intuitively, long before (Kierkegaard had a few things to say as well). What if you can reframe that physiological energy and use it as a catalyst for action? McGonigal offers plenty of ways you can do just that. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"One of the effects of the biological stress response is to make you more open to your experience. You feel things more, and your ability to notice expands. You are more sensitive to other people and to your environment."</p><h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/0307390608?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind - Scott Stossel</a></h4><p>Scott Stossel, a longtime editor of The Atlantic, has suffered from crippling anxiety for years. This half-memoir, half-exposé offers a compassionate gaze into the personal and societal complications of anxiety. Stossel investigates the many attempts at therapy, from the common to the outlandish. Most importantly, he offers real-world advice for controlling and managing symptoms. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> "Conscientious people who were highly neurotic tended to be more reflective, more goal oriented, more organized, and better at planning than average; they tended to be effective, 'high-functioning' workers—and to be better at taking care of their physical health than other workers."</p>
Credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock<h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143125745?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">The Trauma of Everyday Life - Mark Epstein</a></h4><p>In this beautiful handbook for life, psychiatrist Mark Epstein puts Buddhism into action. He claims humans are all traumatized in some capacity, which creates lasting and often subconscious anxiety. Epstein uses the vast toolkit of Buddhist philosophy to reengineer trauma as a catalyst for transformation. The first step is not only striving for what is good and pleasant. You have to face trauma head-on. If you do, Epstein assures us, the world is yours. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The key, taught the Buddha, lies in not taking trauma personally. When it is seen as a natural reflection of the chaotic universe of which we are a part, it loses its edge and can become a deeper object of mindfulness."</p><h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1328915433?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain - Lisa Feldman Barrett</a></h4><p>We don't react to situations, writes psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. Rather, we constantly create our reality. It only feels like reacting because of how deeply our patterns are imprinted. Fortunately, patterns are malleable. In this spellbinding book about the nature of emotions and human consciousness, Barrett leads the reader through the historical construction of emotions, assuring you that you don't need to be the victim of your mind. You are the author of your experiences. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"[Emotions] are not triggered; you create them. They emerge as a combination of the physical properties of your body, a flexible brain that wires itself to whatever environment it develops in, and your culture and upbringing, which provide that environment." </p><h4><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250096960?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World - M.R. O'Connor</a></h4><p>There's something beautiful about getting lost. Not only does it make you notice your surroundings, it activates parts of your brain that remain silent when you default to using Waze for navigation. Science writer Maura O'Connor's exquisite book reminds us of what we've lost in an automated world and the anxiety this "ease" adds to our lives. Of course, she also offers solutions that keep you mentally engaged and emotionally healthy. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Mapping is an act of committing to memory the experience of bodily movement and reenacting it. It's a kind of performance, like telling a story."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
New research conducted on mice suggests repeated heavy drinking causes synaptic dysfunctions that lead to anxiety.
- The study was conducted on mice, who were given the equivalent of five drinks daily for 10 days.
- Images of the alcoholic mice brains showed synaptic dysfunctions related to microglia (immune cells in the brain).
- The results suggest that regulating TNF, a signaling protein related to systemic inflammation, may someday play a part in treating alcohol addiction.
3D surface rendering of confocal maximum projection images showing volume reconstruction of PSD-95 within CD68 structures in microglia (Iba1+ cell) on tissue sections from prefrontal cortices of WT and TNF KO mice after exposure to EtOH or H2O
The role of TNF in anxiety<p>But the new study revealed an interesting finding about TNF. To find out how TNF interacts with anxiety, the researchers gave to the alcoholic mice a drug called <a href="https://www.drugs.com/mtm/pomalidomide.html" target="_blank">pomalidomide</a>, which blocks the production of TNF. After, the mice showed improved synaptic functioning and less anxiety-like behaviors.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This study suggests that regulating the levels of TNF might eventually be useful when treating alcohol addiction," Relvas told Inverse.</p>
Pixabay<p>Still, it's unclear whether or how TNF regulation might work its way into alcohol addiction treatments. After all, even if science can fix the anxiety aspect of alcoholism, heavy drinking still exacts heavy tolls on other parts of the body and brain.</p><p>For now, it's probably best to keep your drinking within moderate levels: <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-9/" target="_blank">Most</a> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/health/alcohol-drinking-health.html" target="_blank">research</a> suggests that having one to two drinks per day yields no significant negative health consequences.</p>
Are you mentally exhausted? Here's how to tell (and what to do about it).
- Mental exhaustion is a symptom of long-term stress. It can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.
- There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain, which will then eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.
- Seeking medical assistance for mental exhaustion is common, with therapists working alongside patients to help develop healthy coping mechanisms and doctors assisting with treatments such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications where needed.
What is mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTc4NTU3OX0.iBdbs1EPqupUid5hsvZGyfNiEM_lsMvZM7UHHq8Z41Q/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C188%2C0%2C97&height=700" id="9b597" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b02945182cfd16b4010fea2238310c05" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="illustratioon woman leaning over desk stressed and exhausted concept of mental exhaustion and burnout" />
Knowing the symptoms of mental exhaustion can help you understand when to seek help.
Credit: Vectorium on Shutterstock<p>According to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mentally-exhausted#symptoms" target="_blank">Medical News Today</a>, mental exhaustion can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.</p><p><strong>What are the symptoms of mental exhaustion? </strong></p><ul><li>Low emotional resilience</li><li>Feeling stressed or anxious</li><li>Cynicism or pessimism, feeling like nothing is going right</li><li>Apathy (a feeling of not caring)</li><li>Difficulty concentrating</li><li>Feelings of helplessness</li><li>Physical exhaustion or fatigue</li><li>Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)</li><li>Feelings of being overwhelmed</li><li>Low motivation</li><li>Feeling distracted or on edge</li><li>Difficulty with memory</li><li>Headaches</li><li>Drastic weight gain/loss</li><li>Changes in appetite</li><li>Depression/depressive symptoms</li><li>Suicidal ideation </li><li>Irritability </li></ul><p><strong>What is the difference between stress and mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Stress is something we all experience - it's the body's natural response to situations that are new, scary, worrisome, etc. The biological response is a surge of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that helps us react quickly to perceived threats or high-pressure situations. With stress, once the "threat" has been removed, your body will stop the surge of hormones and you should go back to your normal state. </p><p>Mental exhaustion, however, is a symptom of long-term stress. When you are continually dealing with things that activate your body's natural stress response, your cortisol and adrenaline levels remain high. Eventually, this begins to interfere with your body's normal functions (such as digestions, sleep, your immune system, etc.). </p><p><strong>What causes mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion or "burn out" are terms that are often used to explain the feeling of being overworked or generally stressed about things relating to your work, but mental exhaustion can be caused by a long period of persistent stress in any areas of your life. It could be work, it could be your home life, or it could be a combination. </p><p>Mental exhaustion can be caused by high-pressure jobs, working long hours, being dissatisfied at work, being the caregiver for an ill loved one, living with a chronic illness, the sudden death of a loved one, poor work-life balance, lack of social support, or a number of other factors. </p><p><strong>How can I tell if I'm emotionally exhausted?</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a> has an incredibly helpful "emotional exhaustion inventory" to check your status: </p><ol><li>I smile less frequently than I used to, even in situations I typically would find funny.</li><li>My senses seem dulled, so food tastes flat, music doesn't move me, back rubs give me no pleasure/release, and I reach for black or grey clothes.</li><li>I can't sleep. Either I can't fall asleep, stay asleep, or all I want to do is sleep. </li><li>Socializing is difficult. When I am with friends or family, I feel disconnected and have a hard time paying attention to what they say.</li><li>I get startled easily by voices, noises or movement. I feel jumpy and jittery. </li><li>I am more irritable than I used to be, especially in lines, online and on the phone. </li><li>My anxiety level is higher than usual, and crowds and traffic make me feel claustrophobic. </li><li>I cry more easily, particularly during movies, sad news reports, sentimental stories and even shows with happy endings.</li></ol><p>If any of these statements sound familiar, you could be dealing with mental/emotional exhaustion.</p>
How can you treat mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTM2NzMyM30.87ZoD3LF4QI42oZwslTSxhH1LV6LYYjeXsXXKIHvqUU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C353%2C0%2C354&height=700" id="6e07c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="edca51bb754a009eaf4a32a819fdc856" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="therapy illustration" />
Seeking medical assistance for emotional exhaustion can help you get back on track.
Credit: Evellean on Shutterstock<p>How can mental exhaustion be treated? There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain and thus eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.</p><p><strong>Remove the stressors in your life. </strong></p><p>If you're overwhelmed with your tasks at work, consider asking for help or delegating some of your tasks to others, if possible. If you're feeling overwhelmed at home, consider enlisting the help of a babysitter or house cleaner to eliminate some of your stress. </p><p><strong>Keep a journal. </strong></p><p>Writing can be extremely therapeutic. Writing about things you are thankful for (especially at a time in your life where you are overwhelmed) can positively impact your mental health way more than you realize. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Research</a> has showed that people who practice gratitude (and gratitude expression exercises) often have a higher sense of well-being, fewer symptoms of physical illness, reduced stress, and higher relationship satisfaction.</p><p><strong>Exercise regularly.</strong></p><p>While you may not have time to visit the gym, there are many ways you can incorporate a bit of exercise into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs more often than the elevator at work, waking up early to go for a walk/run or even doing some physical activity while watching television at the end of the day. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029210000117" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2010 study</a> of 533 Swiss police officers and emergency service corps found that exercise was associated with enhanced health and actually protected against stress-related health problems. The participants of this study also reported feeling better prepared to cope with the chronic stress of their jobs. </p><p><strong>Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. </strong></p><p>Meditation, according to a 2013 Bangkok study, lowers cortisol levels in the blood, which may then lower the risk of diseases associated with stress. If you're not into meditation, other forms of relaxation including yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, aromatherapy, or tai chi may also be helpful. </p><p><strong>Adjust your sleeping patterns. </strong></p><p>Sleep is essential for your emotional well-being. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-exhaustion#treatment-and-coping" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">HealthLine</a> suggests developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it. It can also be particularly helpful if this routine occurs at roughly the same time every evening. This can be doing some light reading for a few minutes before bed at the same time every night, for example. </p><p><strong>Seek medical assistance from a doctor and/or therapist. </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion is an incredibly real and difficult thing to cope with, and seeking medical treatment for it could be one of the best choices you make. A therapist, for example, can provide you with the tools you need to cope with daily stressors. A doctor can talk to you about your symptoms and potentially prescribe medicines (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications) if they feel it may be helpful. </p>
UNC School of Medicine researchers identified the amino acid responsible for the trip.
- Researchers at UNC's School of Medicine have discovered the protein responsible for LSD's psychedelic effects.
- A single amino acid—part of the protein, Gαq—activates the mind-bending experience.
- The researchers hope this identification helps shape depression treatment.
What is Bicycle Day?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d346092205da3c9ed10bad283222c9f1"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/L32mAiLXnLs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Back in the world of clinical science, LSD has always showed promise. That trend continues as restrictions are finally easing up. Understanding LSD's effects on our brain's complex system of networks is an important step toward discovering therapeutic actions. As Roth <a href="https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/how-lsd-binds-to-the-brain-study" target="_blank">says</a> of his research,</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Now we know how psychedelic drugs work – finally! Now we can use this information to, hopefully, discover better medications for many psychiatric diseases."</p><p>Using X-ray crystallography, Roth's team discovered a single amino acid—a building block of the protein, Gαq—responsible for binding to serotonin receptors. As LSD is only a partial agonist, they also experimented with a full-agonist designer psychedelic in order to observe complete receptor activation. This amino acid appears to be the master switch for the psychedelic experience. </p><p>While psilocybin has been in the news, the psychedelic renaissance is expanding in all directions. Phase 1 clinical trials on the <a href="https://newatlas.com/science/landmark-clinical-trial-lsd-mdma-mindmed/" target="_blank">combination</a> of LSD, MDMA, and psychotherapy will soon commence. LSD's effects on <a href="https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03866252" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Major Depressive Disorder</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/first-clinical-trial-shows-micro-doses-of-lsd-can-increase-a-person-s-pain-tolerance" target="_blank">pain management</a> are ongoing. With the <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-18/-magic-mushroom-company-moves-toward-mainstream-in-nasdaq-ipo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">first psychedelics company</a> to IPO on the American stock market, along with hundreds of millions of dollars of investment flowing into similar companies and organizations, the push for legalized psychedelics intensifies. </p>
Credit: ynsga / Shutterstock<p>Researchers are actively attempting to remove the hallucinogenic component of psychedelics for widespread therapeutic usage—<a href="https://www.healtheuropa.eu/could-ibogaine-offer-a-revolutionary-long-term-solution-to-addiction/100635/" target="_blank">trials</a> using ibogaine for addiction treatment, for example. Identifying the chemical effects of psychedelics on our brains is an essential step in that process.</p><p>Of course, believing psychedelics <em>only</em> matters to brain chemistry is problematic as well. The rituals associated with their use are just as relevant. The "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_and_setting" target="_blank">set and setting</a>" model espoused by Timothy Leary reminds us that biology isn't everything; environmental factors play just as important a role in mental health. </p><p>Isolating specific chemicals without understanding the impact of the drug <em>and</em> the environment overlooks the holistic nature of the psychedelic experience. For example, ketamine trials <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/ketamine-depression" target="_self">were rushed</a> and could potentially backfire; we can't afford to make that mistake again. </p><p>Still, understanding the pathways LSD utilizes is an important step forward. As Roth says, "Our ultimate goal is to see if we can discover medications which are effective, like psilocybin, for depression but do not have the intense psychedelic actions." In a world where more people are growing anxious and depressed by the day, every intervention should be explored.</p><p> --</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>