Psychedelics against depression & anxiety
Psychedelics have been showing promising results in major known triggers of addiction; those triggers are depression and anxiety. By utilizing psilocybin in psychotherapy, we can block these depressive triggers. According to Professor David Nutt (2012), professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London,
“Psilocybin, especially, appears to stop patients from dwelling on themselves and their own perceived inadequacies. People with depression have overactive default mode networks and so ruminate on themselves, on their inadequacies, on their badness, that they are worthless, that they have failed – to an extent that is sometimes delusional. Psilocybin appears to block that activity and stops this obsessive rumination.”
This is important information; psilocybin appears to blocks off a part of the brain that is overactive in people with depression. It seems that when people have negative and destructive opinions about themselves, they are likely to fall into a state of depression and self-doubt overtime.
These negative behaviors can wreak havoc on health status and lead to harmful behaviors such as alcoholism and addiction. By utilizing psilocybin in psychotherapy, these depressive triggers can be blocked.
In another recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University (2011), subjects who were given doses of psilocybin had persistent and positive changes in, behavior, mood, and attitudes (Griffiths, Johnson, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2011). The study was double-blind, consisted of 18 adults and it tested the effects of psilocybin under supportive and positive conditions.
The dosage was given in ranges of 5-30 mg of psilocybin by mouth. Assessments were made immediately after the study, at 1-month post-study, and finally at 14 months post study. The end results showed that 60% of volunteers reported having a “full mystical experience” and 94% of volunteers showed and overall increase in wellbeing and mood after 1 month time.
After 14 months 89% of volunteers reported a continued improvement in overall mood and wellbeing as well as reported better relationships and spiritual practices. Some volunteers stated that it was one of the top 5, most personally significant experiences of their lives next to marriage and the birth of a child (Griffiths et al., 2011).
In another study by Griffiths et al., subjects who were given psilocybin showed that an overall openness to new ideas and feelings were achieved and confirmed after a year. This is something not often seen in adults over 30 years of age, so this is extremely fascinating (2011).
It seems clear that psychedelic therapy, using LSD and psilocybin, has a positive impact on mood and behaviors. One of the other reasons why this seems to be because these drugs target and modulate neurocircuits in the brain that play a role in mood and affective disorders (X.,Vollenweider, Kometer 2010, pg. 642).
Recent studies with behavioral and neuroimaging have shed light on this and given these answers. Evidence, also, shows that the pathophysiology of mood disorders is contributed to abnormalities in neuroplasticity.
Since psychedelic drugs target neuronal plasticity and modulate 5-HT2A receptors, they are a great tool to improve the subtypes of anxiety and stress-related disorders and thus have a positive impact on addiction and alcoholism treatment (X.,Vollenweider, Kometer 2010, pg. 648).
The future of psychedelic therapy
Much more research still needs to be done, but there is certainly substantial evidence, past and present, that shows psychedelics as a promising way to battle and treat addiction and alcoholism problem and their triggers, depression, mood disorders, stress, and anxiety. Quite possibly one of the most fascinating points to be made is that this means of treatment offers no negative long-term side effects and is a safe and harmless treatment option compared to anti-depressant medications.
The problem that future research will run into seems to be the lack of funding and the ‘still’ strict laws. It is hard to receive funding for a drug(s) that no longer has or can be patent as well as the fact that treatment and positive result from the treatment can be achieve in as little as a few doses.
Dr. John Halpern, MD, who is the Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School stated, “Psychedelics work so well, you take fewer doses. That’s a problem; they work too well to attract the research” (2014).
It’s sad, but psychedelics just aren’t attracting the attention that they deserve yet. Hopefully, with such a positive result from current research, psychedelic therapy can become widely available to the people who could so greatly benefit from its usage.
Only the future can tell what place psychedelics will hold in the area of medicine and psychology, but hopefully, these answers will come sooner than later so people can end their addictions and get their lives back.
Too many people are suffering and desperately seeking beneficial treatment options that make them feel better not worse. Even if 25-50% of those who are suffering can improve their lives through psychedelic therapy, it would be well worth it. It is time for positive change and new options to battle these epidemics. The time is overdue; the time is now.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently raising money to help fund psychedelic research. If you would like to make a donation or to learn more, please visit:
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Sources & References:
- Carhart-Harris, R. L., Wise, R. G., Leech, R., Nutt, D. J., Feilding, A., Evans, J., et al. (2012). Implications for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy: functional magnetic resonance imaging study with psilocybin. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 200(3), 238-244.
- Griffiths, R. R., Johnson, M. W., Richards, W. A., Richards, B. D., McCann, U., & Jesse, R. (2011). Psilocybin Occasioned Mystical-type Experiences: Immediate And Persisting Dose-related Effects. Psychopharmacology, 218(4), 649-665.
- Luscher, C., & Ungless, M. A. (2006). The Mechanistic Classification Of Addictive Drugs. PLoS Medicine, 3(11), e437.
- MacLean, J. R. (1961). The use of LSD-25 in the treatment of alcoholism and other psychiatric problems. New Haven, CT: Laboratory of applied Biodynamics, Yale University.
- Maclean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(11), 1453-1461.
- New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (n.d.). Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Retrieved July 3, 2014, from http://www.drugfree.org/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drug-addiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-r/
- Panne, V. (n.d.). The Dailybeast. The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 3, 2014, from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/05/longtime-sufferers-of-cluster-headaches-find-relief-in-psychedelics.html
- Psilocybin-Facilitated Treatment of Addiction – A Beckley Foundation/Johns Hopkins Collaboration – The Beckley Foundation. (n.d.). The Beckley Foundation RSS.
- Vollenweider, F. X., & Kometer, M. (2010). The Neurobiology Of Psychedelic Drugs: Implications For The Treatment Of Mood Disorders. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(9), 642-651.
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