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Are Psychedelic Therapies Becoming Legitimate?

Here’s an excellent write-up from Harvard about psychedelic therapies pertaining to the treatment of trauma and other mental health diagnoses. It gives a very helpful historical context. There is additional information below.

Check out the article here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/back-to-the-future-psychedelic-drugs-in-psychiatry-202106222508

Here is an interesting snippet from the article above:

How do psychedelics work?

According to Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, the director of the newly created Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at Massachusetts General Hospital and former psychiatrist-in-chief at MGH, the short answer is, “Psychedelics induce the brain to change transiently in ways that appear to allow a reset to take place and permit alterations in previously ‘stuck’ ways of feeling and thinking about things.” There are likely several ways in which psychedelics can accomplish this: new connections are briefly made in neural networks while the resting state of the brain (or the “default mode network”) loses connectivity — then it restores itself. “It’s like rebooting your computer.” This is how stuck patterns of thinking are thought to shift. Also, new connections between neurons are formed, a process that is called neuroplasticity. Finally, the psychedelic drugs themselves can put patients into a transient state where they can better process memories, feelings, and past trauma, and can “reemerge with a new perspective on them that is freeing and healing” — also called psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Interesting.

The New York Times recently published an article titled, “The Psychedelic Revolution Is Coming. Psychiatry May Never Be the Same” which you can cut and paste right into your browser from below.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/09/health/psychedelics-mdma-psilocybin-molly-mental-health.html

Here is more research, from the Journal of the Neurological Sciences: https://www.jns-journal.com/article/S0022-510X(21)02798-2/fulltext

Highlights

  • Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has shown potential to treat depression, with rapid onset and sustained therapeutic effects.
  • Psilocybin activates serotonin receptors and produces hallucinogenic and antidepressant effects with a favorable safety profile.
  • Trials show safe, rapid, and sustained antidepressant effects in patients with MDD and treatment-resistant depression.
  • Future studies should address limitations with larger, more diverse populations and mitigate functional unblinding of subjects.

Abstract

There is a serious need for novel therapies that treat individuals with depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). An emerging body of research has demonstrated that psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, combined with supportive psychotherapy, exert rapid and sustained antidepressant effects. The use of psychedelics is not new: they have a rich history with evidence of their use in ritual and medical settings. However, due to political, social, and cultural pressures, their use was limited until modern clinical trials began to emerge in the 2010s. This review provides a comprehensive look at the potential use of psilocybin in the treatment of depression and TRD. It includes an overview of the history, pharmacology, and proposed mechanism of psilocybin, and describes several published studies in the last decade which have provided evidence of the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for individuals with depression. It also includes a discussion of the limitations and barriers of current research on psychedelics. The results of these studies are contextualized within the current treatment landscape through an overview of the pathophysiology of depression and the treatments currently in use, as well as the clinical needs these novel therapies have the promise to fulfill.

Ms. Jenn Landers | Patient Advocate Alliance LLC
Edited by Dr. Justin Groode

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