For all the efforts of the depression industry and its prophets such as Prince Harry, people are falling prey to despair in greater numbers than ever.
Reports last year claimed depression and anxiety levels were rising in the UK.
It is also the number one cause of absenteeism in the UK.
And according to this organisation, “it will be the second most disabling condition in the world by 2020, behind heart disease.”
No wonder the race for a solution is competitive and intense.
One of the most interesting people in the effort to restore purpose to people’s lives is Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial College London.
He was due to speak at the New Scientist Live event in London today, on the topic of “Can magic mushrooms cure depression?”
He has previously discussed the subject on a Ted talk here, in which he brought along his own set of terrifying statistics – that major depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide, costs the US more than $200bn, that 15% of patients with major depression commit suicide, and that suicide is the number one cause of death among men under 45 in the UK.
He also cautiously outlines positive early results in his research and trials into using the magic mushroom to lift the suffocating cloak of gloom that is pressing ever more heavily on the planet.
In an interview with the Independent last year, he said “Depression and addictions rest on reinforced patterns of brain activity, and a psychedelic will introduce a relative chaos. Patterns that have become reinforced disintegrate under the drug.
“New things can be learnt at the same time that old things can be unlearnt. It induces a kind of suppleness of mind.”
This may have something to do with unlocking the brain’s vast potential, as outlined in a previous Saint Peacock post here.
So while information has yet to leak out as to how the New Scientist presentation went, it’s unlikely to be of the ruefully shaking his head variety before tearing his Madonna headset off and storming out in tears.
Hopefully the mushroom results were so strong that attendees at the conference raised the roof of the Excel in ecstasy.
If any group of people deserves a shred of good news it’s the depressed (average duration of depression in Dr Carhart-Harris’ Ted talk sample: 18 years).
Humble mushroom, lead the weak and suffering into the light!