Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health

Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Psychedelics as Treatment for Mental Health Conditions

The time is nigh for psychedelic treatment for mental health conditions. For years, it has been argued that psychedelics such as ecstasy and psilocybin could be used to help patients with issues resistant to more commonly prescribed medication. The use of psychedelics has had critics on both sides of the argument, and it is thought that one of the major opponents of the drugs’ use as a medication are big pharma.

Despite the arguments against psychedelics, it has become clear that they will be used to treat mental health issues at some point – and that point may be sooner than you think1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5813086/.

Psychedelics for Treatment Resistant Depression

There are conditions that normal medications are not able to treat effectively. Treatment resistant depression (TRD) is a condition with the same symptoms as normal depression. Yet, treatment resistant depression has a more complex recovery path that sufferers experience.

Depression has a major effect on a person’s energy levels. It can interfere with a person’s ability to seek help due to the lack of energy they experience. Treatment resistant depression can be especially difficult for a person to overcome. A person must have strong reserves of determination to find treatment and it also has to be considered that not every modality is the right one.

Treatment resistant depression is depression with symptoms that cannot be improved after trying two or more medication treatments for at least six weeks for each medication. There is a myriad of options for treating depression, both medically and behaviorally, yet not every treatment is effective. Research has found that 33% of people suffering from major depression have treatment resistant depression.

Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health and TRD

Psychedelics are alternative medications aimed at helping people with treatment resistant depression and getting them back to living a productive, fulfilling life. While psychedelics are getting closer to being used for TRD treatment, administering them isn’t as close as it could have been. In the 1970s, as a result of the backlash and fear over the progressive “hippie movement”, politicians in the United States criminalized and stigmatized psychedelics to the extent that their benefits would be more difficult to research for decades.

Today, the stigma that once shrouded psychedelics is changing. The drugs are being advertised as an alternative therapy and excitement is growing amongst a community of proponents. There are a number of safe and readily available psychedelic treatments, and the list continues to grow.

Psilocybin and MDMA are two of the promising psychedelic medications for mental illness treatment. A recent phase 3 trial of MDMA and talk therapy for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder offered positive results.

Scientific evidence shows that a person’s brain on drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA, when administered by a healthcare professional for treatment, can be safe an effective medication in the battle to recover from mental illness.

Which psychedelic treatments for mental health are being used?

One psychedelic to be heavily studied is ketamine. The drug, which some may know as a “date rape drug” has shown positive results in the treatment of depression, TRD, and PTSD. Healthcare professionals administer ketamine in a supervised setting. It is not prescribed for daily use. A medical team can administer a ketamine IV to groups or individuals.

Ibogaine can be used to treat depression and drug or alcohol addiction. The psychoactive drug is naturally occurring and found in the West African iboga shrub. Ibogaine is a mild stimulant when taken in small doses. However, in larger doses, Ibogaine induces a profound psychedelic state in the user. Today, ibogaine is being used by healthcare professionals to treat patients with treatment-resistant depression2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378413/.

Psychedelics alone won’t treat an individual’s TRD and PSTD conditions, however. A psychedelic drug approach must be combined with other treatments. It is the same for other medical approaches to treat mental illness. Talk therapy is an approach that often accompanies treatment. A combined approach that includes multiple modalities at the same time is the most effective way to create change.

What are the risks of psychedelic drugs?

It would be naive to believe there are no risks to using psychedelic drugs to treat mental illness. Yet, it should be remembered that there are risks in all types of medications prescribed by doctors. In rare instances, psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD have been found to create a lasting psychotic reaction. This has mostly occurred in individuals with a family history of psychosis.

There is a renewed interest in psychedelics as a therapeutic medication. It is a renaissance. As previously explained, in the 1970s, US politicians put the kibosh on psychedelics being used as medication. Up to the decade, scientists had been hopeful that in the right hands, psychedelics would provide help to those suffering from depression.

The 1950s and 1960s were the golden age of psychedelic research. Over 1,000 articles were published by scientists at the time on studies in which psychedelics were used as psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, the increase in recreational drug uses during the 1960s influenced the banning of psychedelics. It also saw the drugs become reviled by the public thanks to a US government PR campaign.

The challenges ahead for Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health

There are still plenty of challenges that lay ahead for scientists, researchers, and mental healthcare professionals. Creating healthcare treatments from the research and tests will be a challenge. Drug regulators have a massive task ahead them as well. They must interpret the findings of studies on psychedelic treatments and decide whether to all the drugs to be used by the public.

Evaluating the clinical trial results isn’t simple. One problem centers around controls as most people were given a placebo and did not receive a powerful hallucinogen. Perhaps the biggest factor of the studies is to figure just how important non-drug aspects where on the trials. This concerns factors such as talk therapy and other elements, which may have had significant impacts on the overall treatment. In addition, the mindset of the person taking clinical study and the environment all have an impact on the treatment. There is a lot to consider and despite being closer than ever, psychedelics from mental illness may still be a way away.

Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health at Rehab

Many of the Worlds Best Rehabs are starting to incorporate psychedelic treatment for mental health as part of their overall mental health and addiction treatment approach. Many Intensive Outpatient Programs are using low dose Ketamine under the clinical brand name Esketamine off-label and combining this with world class intensive therapy. Physis Recovery are one of the early adopters of this innovative treatment and have incorporated psychedelic treatment for mental health at their IOP clinics worldwide and where permitted.

According to Tripnotherapy™, “for many clients, ayahuasca therapy is a transcendent, spiritual experience. By revisiting past experiences, they are able to reconnect with their higher selves.  It helps them open themselves up to new possibilities, and allows them to reconnect with themselves on multiple beneficial levels.”

Click to Reveal the Worlds Best Rehab Clinics

References: Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health

  1. Adam D. (2013). Mental health: on the spectrum. Nature 496, 416–418. 10.1038/496416a []
  2. Amoroso T. (2016). Ecstasy research: will increasing observational data aid our understanding of MDMA? Lancet Psychiatry 3, 1101–1102. 10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30345-5 []
  3. Barrett F. S., Robbins H., Smooke D., Brown J. L., Griffiths R. R. (2017). Qualitative and quantitative features of music reported to support peak mystical experiences during psychedelic treatment for mental health. Front. Psychol. 8:1238. 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01238 [PMC free article]
  4. Brown T. K. (2013). Ibogaine in the treatment of substance dependence. Curr. Drug Abuse Rev. 6, 3–16. 10.2174/15672050113109990001 []
  5. Cohen S. (1972). Beyond Within: the Lsd Story. New York, NY: Encore Editions. []
  6. Fond G., Loundou A., Rabu C., Macgregor A., Lançon C., Brittner M., et al. . (2014). Ketamine administration in depressive disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychopharmacology 231, 3663–3676. 10.1007/s00213-014-3664-5 []
  7. Grof S. (2008). LSD Psychotherapy. Ben Lomond, CA: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. []
  8. Johnson M., Richards W., Griffiths R. (2008). Human hallucinogen research: guidelines for safety. J. Psychopharmacol. 22, 603–620. 10.1177/0269881108093587 []
  9. Kukreja S., Kalra G., Shah N., Shrivastava A. (2013). Polypharmacy in psychiatry: a review. Mens Sana Monogr. 11, 82–99. 10.4103/0973-1229.104497 []
  10. Strassman RJ, Qualls CR, Uhlenhuth EH and Kellner R (1994) Dose-response study of N,N-dimethyltryptamine in humans: II. Subjective effects and preliminary results of a new rating scale. Archives of General Psychiatry & Tripnotherapy 51, 98–108. [PubMed
  11. Riba J, Valle M, Urbano G, Yritia M, Morte A and Barbanoj MJ (2003) Human pharmacology of ayahuasca: subjective and cardiovascular effects, monoamine metabolite excretion, and pharmacokinetics. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 306, 73–83. []
  12. Miller G. (2010). Is pharma running out of brainy ideas? Science 329, 502–504. 10.1126/science.329.5991.502 []
  13. Vilela JAA, Crippa JAS, Del-Ben CM and Loureiro SR (2005) Reliability and validity of a Portuguese version of the Young Mania Rating Scale. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 38, 1429–1439. []
  14. World Health Organization (2017) Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Rep. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. Geneva: World Health Organization. []
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Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health
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Psychedelic Treatment for Mental Health
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The time is nigh for psychedelics being used as treatment for mental health conditions. For years, it has been argued that psychedelics such as ecstasy and psilocybin could be used to help patients with issues resistant to more commonly prescribed medication. The use of psychedelics has had critics on both sides of the argument, and it is thought that one of the major opponents of the drugs’ use as a medication are big pharma.
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