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Psychedelics and Mental Health

Psychedelics and Mental Health: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

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For years, the debate around hallucinogenic drugs being an effective therapeutical remedy has been around the corner. Several studies in the past have suggested the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs for mental health-related issues such as anxiety and depression.

In fact, in several countries, marijuana use and depression are cited to go hand-in-hand. This raises an important question: “How effective are Psychedelics as therapeutic remedies for issues like depression, anxiety and other mental health-related issues?

Are Psychedelics an emerging form of treatment?

Psychedelic therapy is the use of plants and compounds that can induce hallucinations to treat mental health diagnoses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the frequently used compounds in the treatment include psilocybin mushrooms (Magic mushrooms), LSD, and mescaline (peyote). The formal study of psychedelics to treat mental health conditions is relatively new. However, emerging research suggests that psychedelics may help some people with some symptoms, especially when other methods of treatment have failed.

Psychedelic drugs can induce powerful and (nearly) immediate psychological effects. Although these effects might persist over the long term, there is absolutely nothing to worry about since these are good changes. Moreover, the induced changes have been considered to help people struggling with serious mental health conditions.

Studies around Psychedelics

  1. In 2022, a small study conducted by the Imperial College of London revealed that Psilocybin or Magic mushroom drugs can lead to long-term improvement in depression symptom severity.

Conclusion: The study results indicate that the brain’s functional networks become more functionally interconnected and flexible after psilocybin treatment was administered.

  1. In 2020, a study published in ‘The Journal of Biology and Medicine’ found that about 95% of people claimed marijuana provided them rapid short-term relief from depression symptoms.

Conclusion: The study results imply that (at least in the short term), the vast majority of patients using cannabis experience antidepressant effects, although the magnitude of the effect and extent of side effects experiences vary as per chemotypic properties of the plant.

  1. In 2017, researchers conducted a study by looking at people with treatment-resistant depression where they gave 20 people with mostly severe depression two doses of psilocybin 7 days apart, then followed up with them for 6 months.

Conclusion: The study revealed a significant reduction in symptoms for the first 5 weeks following the treatment. After that, 9 participants responded to treatment while 4 of them had depression that was in remission.

Psychedelics: Theoretical or Practical?

Psychedelic drugs induce powerful changes in consciousness that can cause serious side effects. These may include psychosis, fear, cardiovascular issues and many more. Despite the negative effects, most studies report few or no negative reactions.

Psychedelics remain an experimental treatment. It is not something you can avail yourself in the doctor’s office or in therapy. In addition to that, researchers do not fully understand how they work, how to predict who will get the best results, or how to minimize the risk of side effects. For most people, the benefits of psychedelics remain purely theoretical. As more research emerges, psychedelics could become mainstream and accessible.

Related: Understanding Neuroscience: Brain and Mental Health

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