Could Mental Health Disorders Be Treated With Psychedelics?


| LAST UPDATE 12/08/2021

By Hayden Katz
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In recent years, many scientists have tested the use of psychedelics to reduce symptoms of PTSD and other mental health disorders. But, could it actually work? Here's what researchers have found.

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Many studies have proved that hallucinatory substances can provide some people with instant ease if accompanied by therapy sessions. This form of treatment has been discussed because around 30% of people don't see a difference when going to regular psychotherapy.

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A neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda, from New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said, "The general attitude in academic medicine right now is, ‘Gosh, let’s try it. Let’s see. Maybe it will be good. Wouldn’t that be nice?’" Various Universities around the nation have begun testing psychedelic effects, such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, New York University Langone Health, the University of California, San Francisco, and others. A Univerity of Ottawa psychologist, Monnica Williams, has said, “The promise is incredible." Williams was in charge of a clinical trial, she added, “Psychedelics have the potential to really completely revolutionize mental health and change everything.”

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But the use of drugs for depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., has some setbacks. For one, psychedelics such as MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy, psilocybin, and LSD are illegal in America. They are classified as a Schedule 1 substance since they can lead to abuse issues. If scientists progress with their research, it can be used as an extra form of treatment by psychologists. At Connecticut medical center, scientists conducted an MDMA study. One participant, Kanu Caplash, described his experience while under the influence, "I wasn’t as angry as I was before. My muscles were a lot less tense. I could literally see clearer,” he said, “As I went through the study, I was also becoming a different person.”

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How does it work? Psilocybin, for example, has been seen to alter brain connectivity in areas associated with controlling the details sent in by our senses. One study's results indicated that 71% of participants' depression was decreased by at least 50%. Another study, posted on Nature Medicine, tested the effects of MDMA. They also had significant results. At least 2/3 of participants who received MDMA stopped having PTSD symptoms, they were no longer diagnosed with the disorder. Psychedelics appear to show results faster than psychiatric treatments already on the market, like Prozac and SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).