Like many people who receive a cancer diagnosis, Octavian Mihai experienced severe anxiety and depression. But even after successful treatment, he was consumed by fear that the cancer had returned. “My mind was terrorizing me,” he recalls in this Vital Signs episode.
When anti-anxiety medication didn’t help, he volunteered for a psychedelic drug study at NYU Langone. Stephen Ross, MD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, was testing whether psilocybin—the psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms—relieved depression and anxiety in people with cancer. During a psychedelic session with Dr. Ross, Octavian had a breakthrough that helped him conquer his fear. “I can choose to not allow it to terrorize me,” he recalls.
Driven by the promise of psychedelics to transform lives, Dr. Ross is determined to make psilocybin an approved medical treatment. “It’s still illegal, and you cannot take it unless you are participating in a clinical trial,” he says. “We have to take this to the next step.”