top of page

Illuminating a Path to Healing: Psychedelics and Depression Treatment

Psychedelic therapy's potential to treat depression

In the dynamic landscape of mental health treatment, new horizons are emerging, offering fresh perspectives on how to offer relief to people who grapple with their mental health. In this article, we explore the burgeoning potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy, delving into the science behind the use of psilocybin and the pseudo-psychedelic, ketamine, in the treatment of depression. Grounded in evidence-based research, we examine their efficacy and the distinct value they present compared to conventional therapeutic methods in treating depression.

The Science of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy

Psychedelic-assisted therapy encompasses the guided use of mind-manifesting molecules to catalyse transformative psychological experiences. These medicines wield the ability to rewire neural pathways by facilitating transcendent experiences. Through the activation of widespread communication across several brain regions, one is able to enjoy deep introspection, reviewing key life experiences or core beliefs, and experience profound emotional catharsis (release).

Through functional MRI scans, researchers have observed that compounds like psilocybin and ketamine have the capacity to forge new neural connections and recalibrate maladaptive thought patterns by allowing someone to adopt new perspectives on rigid, unhelpful beliefs. (See Reference List below)

The Efficacy of Psychedelics

Among the compounds gaining traction in the treatment of depression, psilocybin and ketamine stand out. Psilocybin's interaction with serotonin receptors holds promise in mitigating depressive symptoms. A study by Carhart-Harris et al. (2018) showcased marked reductions in depression severity following psilocybin-assisted therapy. This compound offers an avenue for enduring transformation.

Ketamine: A Pseudo-Psychedelic's Swift Impact

In the realm of depression treatment, ketamine, a dissociative aesthetic, is gaining recognition as a pseudo-psychedelic. Diverging from traditional antidepressants that require weeks to manifest results, ketamine offers rapid and potent relief. A study by Murrough et al. (2013) found that ketamine triggered swift alleviation of depressive symptoms, often within hours. Although its mechanisms differ from classical psychedelics, ketamine's potential to induce transformative encounters deems it a prominent contender in depression therapy (among others, including anxiety). This has consistently been indicated in more recent research, too (see Science Daily: Ketamine effective for treatment-resistant depression; Efficacy of ketamine therapy in the treatment of depression)

Comparing Psychedelic-assisted Therapy with Traditional Approaches

Traditional Therapy for Depression

Conventional depression treatments typically encompass cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and pharmacological interventions. While these methods hold their ground and offer valid, effective support for some, they might overlook latent subconscious issues that contribute to the symptoms of depression. Psychedelic and ketamine-assisted therapies bring forth a distinct advantage by delving into the recesses of the mind, laying bear what remains unresolved, including past. Through profound insights and deep emotional release, these therapies lay the groundwork for comprehensive healing.

Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy for Depression

The healing potential of psychedelic medicines is considerably magnified when couched within a robust therapeutic framework to guide change. Depression can be understood in various ways but most research indicates that depression is often underpinned by:

(1) internalised, rigid, negative core beliefs about one’s self due to trauma;

(2) an absence of important elements of life fulfilment, such as the experience of loneliness, lacking meaningful work, romantic love, connection to nature, among others;

(3) or a combination of these factors.

At EQNMT, our carefully curated pre-psychedelic journey preparation tasks (life story and intention-setting), therapy sessions, workshops run by expert psychologists, and experiential exercises like yoga, breathwork and cold exposure, are all couched in a beautiful setting with like-minded people to facilitate deep healing.

With ‘set and setting’ addressed, the psychedelic journey (and preparation tasks) allows participants to identify these core beliefs and missing elements of life from a place of compassion. The psychedelic agent aids them in changing core beliefs in a rapid manner to allow relief from old forms of suffering and allow for emotional exploration to guide them to what is truly important. The work of integration therapy sessions after the psychedelic experience, then create a structured plan with actionable behaviours, providing an individualised ‘how-to guide’ to personal fulfilment.

A Real-World Case Study - John’s Journey

John is a 65-year-old executive terrified by his upcoming retirement. He felt depressed that he was losing important relationships, a sense of identity and a sense of purpose in his work. Despite the stress, he was sad to say goodbye to work. During his psychedelic journey, John realised that he held a belief that he was only as worthy as his last work contribution and remembered that his parents had always loved him unconditionally. It was he who had developed an idea of himself as nothing more than his job title.

He then began to realise that he missed his friends, wife, children and realised that he had not connected with them for a long time. He realised he missed his garden, painting miniatures and the long walks he used to enjoy with his wife in the park. His longing for work dissolved and his longing for his relationships and play emerged. He felt a spark and desire to discover these other parts of himself. After developing a structured plan of action during integration therapy to reconnect with these relationships and activities, John returned to a new life. Months later, he reported no experiences of depression, while experiencing deep feelings of gratitude and joy as a result of the time he spent in psychedelic-assisted therapy with our team.

A New Era of Healing: Expanding Viable, Effective Depression Treatment Options

As we explore uncharted territories of mental health care, the synergy between psychedelic-assisted therapy and pseudo-psychedelics like ketamine paints an encouraging trajectory for individuals grappling with depression. Bolstered by empirical research, these compounds hold the potential to catalyse life-altering experiences, grappling with underlying causes. While obstacles persist, the evolution of these innovative therapies marks a paradigm shift in how we perceive, address, and overcome depression.


NOTE: While EQNMT offers psychedelic-assisted therapy and wellness programs, we firmly believe in a holistic approach to wellbeing. As such, we acknowledge that psychedelic-assisted therapy might not be useful to or desired by everyone, and encourage healthcare seekers to consult trusted professionals before starting any new form of treatment. Similarly, we advocate for the safe, legal use of psychedelics in a therapeutic setting, guided and administered by qualified professionals.


Follow Us on Our Socials for More Mental Health & Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Content

EQNMT Psychedelic Therapy - Instagram

EQNMT Psychedelic Therapy - Facebook

EQNMT Psychedelic Therapy - LinkedIn


Reference List

Carhart-Harris, R. L., & Goodwin, G. M. (2017). The therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs: Past, present, and future. Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(11), 2105-2113.

Carhart-Harris, R. L., Roseman, L., Bolstridge, M., Demetriou, L., Pannekoek, J. N., Wall, M. B., ... & Nutt, D. J. (2018). Psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression: fMRI-measured brain mechanisms. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1-11.

Mithoefer, M. C., Mithoefer, A. T., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Wagner, M., Wymer, J., ... & Doblin, R. (2018). 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers: a randomized, double-blind, dose-response, phase 2 clinical trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(6), 486-497.

Murrough, J. W., Perez, A. M., Pillemer, S., Stern, J., Parides, M. K., Aan Het Rot, M., ... & Charney, D. S. (2013). Rapid and longer-term antidepressant effects of repeated ketamine infusions in treatment-resistant major depression. Biological Psychiatry, 74(4), 250-256.

Watts, R., Day, C., Krzanowski, J., Nutt, D., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2017). Patients’ accounts of increased “connectedness” and “acceptance” after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 57(5), 520-564.


bottom of page