Psychedelics are drug substances that change your perspective of reality. They also alter mood, perception, and thought processes. They’re similar to hallucinogens which change what you see, hear, or smell. However, psychedelics have become a viable therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders.
The two most-studied drugs are MDMA and psilocybin. MDMA is also known as Ecstasy or Molly. It is a chemical substance that changes mood and reality. MDMA increases pleasure, energy, and emotional joy and changes time perception. MDMA boosts the production of dopamine. This is a hormone that rewards behaviours that increase joy and energy. It also increases the production of norepinephrine, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Finally, it increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is the happy hormone that affects appetite, sleep, sexual arousal, and empathy.
Psilocybin is a drug compound found in fungi. It’s also known as a magic mushroom. It is a hallucinogen that affects serotonin levels. As a result, it changes how you see objects in your environment. The effects occur within half an hour and can last up to six hours. It has also been used traditionally to have a spiritual experience during a party or cultural event.
How are psychedelics used for treatment?
Studies show that psychedelics are promising for mental health treatment when used with psychotherapy. They aren’t administered like regular medication. Patients are first put in session to prepare. Then, they are given a six-hour dosing session for psilocybin and an eight-hour dosing session for MDMA. Patients spend this time in a room relaxing. They also have therapists, psychedelic facilitators, psychiatrists, and clinical research coordinators monitoring them.
MDMA works by inhibiting the amygdala’s response, a part of your brain that detects threats. It enables you to confront and process trauma. Psychedelic treatment helps patients become more receptive to medicated or talk therapy.
Can every mental health patient use psychedelics?
Psychedelics increase the risk of heart attacks. The facilitators monitor heart rate and blood pressure. They can also cause nausea and sensory overload. Psychedelics additionally can also cause symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia, visual disturbances, and mood changes.
Since psychedelics are recommended for patients resistant to normal treatment, doctors may also worry about the increased risk of suicide. Psychedelics can destabilise patients. However, the risk of suicide with psilocybin is low.
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Hallucinogens are generally safe, but many may oppose their effects. They can cause fear, dysphoria, panic, or nightmares. People with schizophrenia should also not use psychedelic treatment.
People with a history of substance abuse should also avoid this treatment. A history of addiction leads to brain changes that make self-control more difficult. If a patient has been previously exposed to psilocybin, it can increase the risk of overdosing during treatment. An MDMA overdose can lead to heatstroke, organ failure, and in extreme cases, death.
Before trying this treatment, speak with your doctor to get proper guidance. Facilities that provide psychedelic treatment ensure patients are most comfortable.
Other facilities legalised in the US also use ketamine and LSD for treatment. They can help treat alcohol abuse disorder, depression, and PTSD. Studies found that psychedelics help reduce alcoholism. The treatment is also only suitable for patients over 18.
The possibilities of psychedelic treatment seem impressive. Many indigenous users in Brazil, Mexico, and the US have historically used psychedelics for treatment and recreational use. With more clinical trials finding the benefits of using psychedelics to treat PTSD or addiction, this could be a ground-breaking frontier in mental health treatment.
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