Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults (18 years and above) in the US every year. On the other hand, a major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million adults in the same age bracket in the US every year. Such numbers explain why there is an increased awareness and efforts to find effective treatments.
These efforts include research into psychedelic treatment for depression. The side effects of most drug treatments have led most people and institutions to seek alternative ways of how to treat anxiety without medication. This article looks at one of these options, psychedelics. Does it also aim to answer questions such as does acid get rid of anxiety? And which psychedelic is best for depression.
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Psychedelic Treatment for Depression
Psychedelic treatment for depression is also known as psychedelic therapy. It involves the use of psychedelic substances to foster the well-being of individuals. Psychedelic substances are also known as hallucinogens since they can enhance or change one’s sensory perceptions, energy levels, and thought processes. It is this effect that psychedelic treatment for depression seeks to tap into.
The current research shows that when one uses these substances under controlled settings, they can have powerful and lasting behavioral and psychological changes.
The use of hallucinogens for spiritual and medicinal purposes is not new, as ancient cultures have been using the various substances for ages. In the US, these substances were used recreationally and as alternative medication, especially in the 50s and 60s, until they became illegal. While most of the substances remain illegal, because of the potential psychedelic treatment for depression has, authorities have allowed for trials and further research.
The administration of psychedelic treatment for depression is not standardized. Different studies and practitioners use their ways though there are some common elements including;
- The administration is done under the supervision of a psychedelic expert.
- Patients are given a low to moderate dose of the drug.
- The doses are repeated with a duration of 1-2 weeks between the sessions.
- There is an emphasis on the ideal set (mood, expectations) and settings (environment of the session).
- One must go through an integration process after taking the psychedelics to find meaning in the experience.
- Others use micro-dosing, which is taking small doses of the hallucinogenic substance.
What are Psychedelic Drugs Used to treat?
While there are many substances, research on psychedelic treatment for depression and other conditions currently focuses on a few of them. These include;
Ayahuasca: It is a substance taken as a brew with South American origins. Anecdotal evidence shows that people use it for addiction problems, anxiety, and depression. Its potential side effects include harmful medication interactions and serotonin syndrome.
LSD: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide effects in the body include mood changes and altered perception and consciousness. It has potential in the treatment of anxiety and drug addiction.
Psilocybin: Results in changes in mood, consciousness, and perceptions. It is the one hallucinogen that has received much research attention for its potential to treat depression, drug addiction, and anxiety.
MDMA: Also known as ecstasy, and while it is not a typical psychedelic compound, it produces similar hallucinogenic effects. These include euphoria, heightened arousal, increased sociability, and altered perceptions.
Which Psychedelic is Best for Depression?
At the moment, there are different studies and trials on various substances, so it is not possible to have a clear-cut best psychedelic treatment for depression. Other hallucinogens show promise across different conditions.
The present research shows that depression, substance and alcohol abuse, anxiety, and PTSD are some of the conditions that have shown significant positive responses to psychedelic therapy.
Psilocybin, for example, has shown great promise in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. A study in 2016 showed that using the substance significantly decreased depression and anxiety in patients under cancer treatment.
On the other hand, initial research points to solid evidence that LSD can help treat and recover from substance abuse complications. Further research shows that psychedelic therapy has promise in addiction treatment.
On the other end, MDMA-based psychotherapy is proving effective on forms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that have not responded to other forms of treatment.
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Further studies point to the effectiveness of psychedelic treatment for depression. For example, in one study of the effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy, the participants showed positive results like;
- Increased optimism
- Less anxiety over mortality
- Improved life quality
80 % of the participants in the study maintained these positive improvements for six more months. Another study focusing on the effects of psychedelic use looked at music festivals and concerts. It found that people who use LSD and psilocybin had improved moods and felt more socially connected.
However, when it comes to psychedelic treatment for depression, one substance holds much more promise now, and that’s psilocybin, the magic mushrooms. Such is its promise that the FDA has designated it twice as a breakthrough therapy for the psychedelic treatment of depression.
In 2018, the FDA gave Compass Pathways this designation for its research in a synthetic psilocybin pill. In 2019, the FDA again gave the designation to Usona Institute based in Wisconsin. The title allows for fast-tracking the study and trialing psilocybin as a potential psychedelic treatment for depression. There are a couple of other studies happening internationally.
According to scientists, psilocybin appears to work against depression by acting on the amygdala (the brain’s fear center) part of the brain. It has a calming effect on this brain organ and the interaction of brain circuits that depression had slowed down.
Benefits of Using a Psychedelic Treatment for Depression
So why should you consider a psychedelic treatment for depression? According to researchers working on these substances, psychedelic treatment for depression is fast-acting compared to traditional depression medication. Its effects occur in hours or days at most instead of the usual weeks to months of traditional drugs.
The second significant reason is that psychedelics show more efficacy in treating treatment-resistant depression. Instead of struggling with extreme depression and heavy medication that is not offering relief, patients now have a working alternative.
Further psychedelic treatment for depression has shown that the effects stay for a longer time, reducing the need for frequent medication use.
Potential Side Effects of Psychedelic Treatment for Depression
As you consider psychedelic treatment for depression options, it is important to understand the potential side effects and other experiences you may have. These will vary from one person to another. As part of your psychedelic treatment for depression, you may experience:
- Altered perception of time
- Intense emotions
- Altered or intense perceptions
- Distortion of reality
These experiences may only last for the period of the treatment. However, you may have some significant side effects like;
- Negative psychological reactions, especially if you experience a bad trip.
- Possible personality changes
- It may have negative interactions with your medications.
On top of these, the administration of the psychedelic treatment for depression could be time-consuming, taking from 4-6 hours for a supervised trip.
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How to Get Started on Psychedelic Treatment for Depression
The best option right now being part of a clinical trial. Before you get started on a psychedelic treatment for depression, it is important to get a consultation with a relevant mental healthcare specialist. That is where we at MDBerry are of assistance.
We have a team of doctors who are familiar with psychedelic therapy, and through our consultation, you receive complete and accurate information on psychedelic treatment for depression and other conditions.