Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. David Posthumus

Second Advisor

Dr. Cliff Summer

Third Advisor

Beate Wone


Depression, Antidepressants, Disease Etiology, Psilocybin, Psychedelics, Neuroscience, and Neuroplasticity.


Psychiatric illness’s continue to plague innumerable minds around the world, with depression at the forefront as the leading cause for disability worldwide. Within the United States, more than 32,000,000 Americans 12 and older take antidepressants daily. Although, 30% of patients do not receive any benefit from taking their prescribed medications. Therapeutic options for depression have remained focused on neurochemical imbalances and biological underpinnings, while ignoring essential cognitive factors. These cognitive factors throughout traditional medicine have been the focal point for effectively treating depression. Overtime individuals fall into negative thought patterns that embed themselves within the mind and cause neuroplastic changes to occur. Once set in, neurogenesis along with neuroplasticity becomes decreased. Antidepressants have shown marginal effects on increasing neuroplasticity after 4-5 weeks. Psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic tryptamine, has become increasingly researched regarding its ability to cause profound neuroplastic changes. For centuries shamans have used psilocybin within healing ceremonies to effectively treat psychiatric illnesses through cognitive restructuring. Clinical studies have validated these practices through demonstrating a downregulation of the Default Mode Network (DMN) along with increased neuroplasticity and cognition. Therefore, a probable causality for depression becomes due to an impairment of neuroplasticity resulting from repression and negative thought patterns.



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