Those of us who have tried psychedelic substances know that they can be fairly life-changing. They allow you to see the world from multiple different perspectives numerous times over and simply change the way you think and perceive things. While most people use the substances recreationally, a surprisingly large number of people are starting to use them for medicinal reasons as well.

Just a few nights ago, I was hanging out at a local bar with some friends and family and met a young man who told me about a psychotic disorder he suffered from that doctors couldn’t diagnose because they weren’t exactly sure what was wrong. They told him it was similar to schizophrenia. And after he’d tried a number of different pharmaceutical treatment options, he said the only thing that seemed to help calm the chaos in his brain were psychedelic drugs.

More and more stories similar to this man’s are popping up around the world, noting that some of the only effective ways to treat their chronic conditions are by taking substances such as LSD and magic mushrooms.

In fact, a recent study out of New York University has been experimenting with the use of psilocybin (the psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms) to help treat the anxiety and depression of those suffering from cancer.

Two studies have since been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, one by NYU featuring 29 patients and the other by Johns Hopkins University featuring 51 patients. Using similar methods and procedures, both studies discovered that about 80 percent of patients who consumed psilocybin experienced decreases in both depression and anxiety that lasted for at least six months--in some cases, permanently.

Patients reported feeling more optimistic about life and felt that it was more meaningful, while those with terminal diagnoses were better able to cope with their imminent fates and suffer less than they would have if they had not been given the psychedelic compound.

“There’s something about these experiences that allows people to see their disease process in a much larger scope. They might say—‘I’m very sad, I’m dying. But in a larger sense it’s OK, and it’ll be alright.’ They’re certainly not welcoming their death, but they’re no longer deeply fearful of it,” says Roland Griffiths, leader of the Johns Hopkins study.

Researcher and psychiatrist at UCLA, Charles Grob, says he doesn’t believe there is any other drug that can provide such long-lasting effects with just one dose. He also notes that he’s not entirely surprised by what these two studies have found, as he found similar discoveries when he conducted a similar study back in 2011 on 12 cancer patients.

Illegal to possess, but approved by the DEA for studies such as these - Image credit: Johns Hopkins

What’s also impressive is that there have been zero long-term negative consequences for patients in each of the studies. Some patients continued to experience slight effects of their anxiety and an even smaller number of patients experienced short bouts of nausea.

Roland Griffiths says that these two studies have “set the stage” for phase 3 clinical trials that would be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, which could potentially lead to a reclassification of such substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration. But, more testing would need to be done, in a similar fashion to what these cancer patients experienced, before psilocybin and other psychedelic compounds would be deemed legal for use by healthy folks and those suffering from anxiety or depression without chronic illnesses.

“It’s time to take psychedelic treatments in psychiatry and oncology seriously, as we did in the 1950 and 1960s, which means we need to go back to the future,” says David Nutt, neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London.

You can read more about these studies, as well as others, here! And be sure to share with friends and loved ones who might be interested in these new discoveries surrounding the medicinal benefits of psychedelic compounds.

h/t NewsWeek

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It's Official: Researchers Say We Should Only Be Working 4 Days a Week

Those of us who have had, or currently have, a 9 to 5 job know incredibly well that the 3 o’clock crash is a very real thing. So many people work hard all morning only to find themselves bored, burnt out and killing time for the last two or three hours of the day until they’re off. Yet, people continue to crank out 60-70 hour work weeks.

K. Anders Ericsson, a prominent scientist in the field of work psychology, has done the experiments and says that most people are only capable of doing about 4 to 5 hours of work that is actually productive. Once they reach their productive “limit,” they become less productive and less focused.

"If you’re pushing people well beyond the time they can really concentrate maximally, you’re very likely to get them to acquire some bad habits. What’s worse, those bad habits could end up spilling into the time people are normally productive," Ericsson says.

CEO of Treehouse, Ryan Carson, decided to test this theory about ten years ago in 2006. He put in place a 32-hour work week and hasn’t gone back since. His employees are not only happier, but much more productive. This resonates with Ericsson’s findings that shorter work weeks helped boost productive output, worker retention, and overall personal and professional happiness.

The idea has also been tested in a school environment, as 4th and 5th grade students in Colorado were part of an experiment that saw their school week drop from five days to four. The results? Reading and math scores for the 4-day school week students went up by 6 percent and 12 percent when compared to students in the traditional 5-day school week.

"I think the idea that children will be fully concentrating during all their classes is unreasonable," Ericsson explains.

Much of the evidence suggests that simply finding new ways to redistribute the workload over the week can have major benefits for both schools and professional work environments. Many places have already begun doing so by offering their employees four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. This not only gives people an extra day off, but also allows them a greater chance of avoiding rush hour traffic.

What do you think? Would you prefer a 4-day work week?

h/t BrightSide

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Photos: Stray Miniature Schnauzer is Taken in by Monastery, Becomes a Monk

It’s not everyday you see a miniature schnauzer dressed up like a monk. The adorable pup you see here is Friar Bigotón (Friar Moustache), and he’s the newest member of St. Francis Monastery located in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Friar Moustache was once a stray dog wandering the streets until he was taken in by the kind monks at the monastery.

“His life is all about playing and running,” says fellow friar Jorge Fernandez. “Here, all of the brothers love him very much. He is a creature of God.”

Friar Moustache was even given a special ‘habit’ to wear around the monastery, denoting his status as a friar like the other monks. He can be seen regularly attending to his chores around the monastery, which includes giving sermons to the fish.

“If only all the churches of our country [would] adopt a dog and care for him like Friar Bigotón,” writes local animal rescue, Proyecto Narices Frías (Cold Nose Project). “We are sure that the parishioners would follow his example.”

How cute is this little monk dog?

Please share with friends and family who would love to see Friar Moustache’s new home at the monastery!

h/t BoredPanda

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5 Photos Showing Strange Things Happen When Bookstore Employees Are Bored

People tend to get creative when they’re bored and need to entertain themselves. Like the good folks at the Librairie Mollat in France, who actually started an Instagram page dedicated to their new favorite pastime: finding books that match up perfectly with their patrons’ faces and bodies.

We can see just how good they’ve gotten at pairing the right faces with the right books--the result being something that is different, yet still artful in its own capacity. Not to mention, it’s kind of hilarious and unsettling at the same time.

Perhaps even cooler is the fact that this particular bookstore was the first independent bookstore to open in Bordeaux, France, in 1896. Its employees are clearly set on only furthering its reputation of independence.

Check out the pictures here, let us know which ones are your favorite, and then head over to their Instagram account to see more!

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h/t Bored Panda

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3 Things You Need to Know About High-Functioning Depression

Depression is a very complex mental condition that affects everyone differently. Those of us who have suffered from depression before know just how insufferable it truly is.

For some, the condition is just like many people believe it to be: feeling apathetic towards everything, feeling fatigued and unmotivated, crying, avoiding people and friends, etc. For many others, depression hides behind a happy face and a well-to-do attitude--masks that cover up any trace of unhappiness.

These people are suffering from high-functioning depression. And it’s important to know the difference.

High-functioning versus low-functioning depression

Unlike people with low-functioning depression who struggle to get out of bed or even take a shower, high-functioning depression is when a person is seemingly quite well on the outside, but on the inside they are consumed by sadness.

Professor of psychiatry Carol Landau says that she typically sees high-functioning depression in people who have relatively good (or even enviable) lives who have achieved a lot.

"People often say being high-functioning is better than being low-functioning, but that’s not really true because the most important thing is for a depressed person to get help — which a high-functioning person is limiting herself from," Landau says.

It’s often kept hidden because of the stigma surrounding it

So many people in the world today live with high-functioning depression. Some have been doing it for almost all of their lives without anyone ever noticing. One of the main reasons this is has to do with the negative stigma surrounding depression as a mental health condition.

Have you ever told someone you’re depressed and they ask why you can’t just be happy? Or why can’t you just stop being depressed? Depression is a largely misunderstood condition and people automatically become uneasy when you tell them about how lifeless you feel inside and how nothing changes it.

Landau says she sees it a lot in women because of their need “to be caregivers,” something that contradicts them “admitting [that they] need help.”

Learning how to recognize depression

”You might have a friend who is cranky all the time, or who people think of as a “bitch,“ but inwardly that person is really struggling. Other subtle signs to look for: ironic or morose jokes or often seeming out of it. For me, it was irritability,” explains Landau, describing how depression can manifest in a person differently than we tend to believe.

If you think someone you know or love is battling with depression, the best ways to reach out are by asking simple questions, like “How are you doing right now?” followed up with neutral phrases like “you seem kind of out of it lately” or “you don’t seem like yourself.” People with depression often just want you to listen to them.

If you feel that it’s a good time to offer suggestions or advice, come prepared with recommendations for a therapist or something that might help them get out of their head-space. But, be prepared for them not wanting your help or to leave their depressive comfort. Many people will take it the wrong way when you suggest them seeking out help.

“There are so many different types of therapists, medications, apps, and other tools. That’s why it’s tragic that so many people don’t seek help.”

Mental health is something many of us take for granted until our own begins to decline or suffer. It’s a terrible feeling and one that is hard to shake. If you’re depressed, do not be afraid to reach out for help. If you think someone might be depressed, listen to what they have to say and see if you can help.

Above all else, we must take care of each other.

h/t Brightside

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