As more and more states & regions work towards decriminalizing the use of psychedelics, the research into their potential therapeutic benefits is growing. Most recently, there has been a surge in studies looking at psychedelics as antidepressants. This article will explore what psychedelics are, what kinds are being tested in clinical settings, and what the future may hold for their continued use.
What are Psychedelics?
The term ‘psychedelic’ describes drugs and substances that can change perception, mood, and cognitive processes through their interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. These substances are known to cause intense visual and auditory hallucinations and feelings of euphoria and/or altered states of consciousness. Examples of psychedelics include LSD, MDMA, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), ayahuasca, mescaline, and DMT.
What Kinds of Psychedelics are Being Tested?
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted to assess psychedelics’ efficacy in treating depression. These studies often couple the substances with psychotherapy sessions to help the patients open up and get to the root of their depression.
Psilocybin, AKA “Magic Mushrooms”, is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound used for centuries in spiritual and healing ceremonies. The drug has recently gained attention as a potential treatment for depression, with recent studies showing promise in its ability to produce lasting relief from symptoms of the condition.
Psilocybin alters brain chemistry, causing mood, thought patterns, and behavior changes. The effects can be felt within an hour of ingestion and typically last for up to 8 hours. While more research needs to be conducted on its efficacy as a treatment for depression, current studies suggest that it could offer long-term benefits to people who suffer from the condition.
Psilocybin is the farthest along in the legalization process, decriminalizing the drug in Denver, Colorado; Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Washington DC; Somerville, Northampton, and Cambridge, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and most recently, the state of Oregon.
MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, is a synthetic drug that has been gaining attention for its potential to treat symptoms of depression. It works by increasing levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin in the brain—all of which are known to regulate mood and improve well-being.
Unlike many other medications used to treat depression, MDMA does not come with many side effects or withdrawal symptoms when used appropriately. Instead, it has been found to produce feelings of euphoria and connection to others, often leading to lasting relief from depressive symptoms. While more research needs to be done on the use of MDMA as a treatment for depression, early trials appear promising for treating depression and PTSD.
DMT, or N-dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound that has been used in spiritual ceremonies for centuries. Recently, it has gained attention as a possible treatment for depression due to its ability to produce feelings of intense joy, connection to the universe and other people, and relief from symptoms of depression. DMT alters brain chemistry—specifically serotonin levels—to produce these effects.
While the FDA has yet to approve trials for DMT stateside, trials are underway in the UK. Researchers are modeling their studies after psilocybin treatments; administering the drug before therapy sessions to help patients process their emotions and access more profound levels of understanding.
Ketamine is a psychedelic drug that has recently gained attention as a possible treatment for depression. It alters serotonin levels in the brain, leading to intense joy, dissociation, and relief from depressive symptoms. The FDA-approved alternative to ketamine is esketamine, a prescription nasal spray that functions similarly to traditional ketamine treatments.
Ketamine is being studied as a potential treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other mental health conditions. While the FDA hasn’t approved it for depression treatments, some mental health clinics still offer supervised ketamine sessions for individuals with severe depression. These studies often show promise in their ability to produce lasting relief from symptoms of the condition.
What is the Future of Psychedelic Use as Antidepressants?
The use of psychedelics as antidepressants has gained increasing attention in recent years, with a growing number of studies suggesting that these substances may be effective treatments for depression. While further research needs to be done on the safety and efficacy of psychedelics, early results are promising.
While the legalization process will take some time, decriminalizing certain psychedelics in several cities and states has opened up avenues for further research and development into their potential therapeutic use. If more studies can be conducted, we may soon better understand whether these substances can be used as safe and effective treatments for depression.
In the meantime, those suffering from depression should always speak with their doctor before considering any treatment, including psychedelic drugs. While there is potential for these substances to treat depression, it is important to remember that they can also have serious risks if not taken correctly. It is best to proceed cautiously and seek professional advice before beginning any type of treatment.
Seeking Alternative Depression Treatments?
If you suffer from treatment-resistant depression (TRD) or major depressive disorder (MDD), BestMind Behavioral Health provides effective esketamine therapy to help you find relief. Esketamine, also known as SPRAVATO®, is a proven and FDA-approved medication that can reduce symptoms of TRD and MDD. It’s administered under the guidance of one of our highly qualified providers, who will work to create a personalized treatment plan. Our providers are dedicated to helping their patients live healthier, more fulfilling lives.
To learn more about the benefits of esketamine therapy and how it can help you manage your condition, contact us today at BestMind Behavioral Health for a consultation. We look forward to helping you on your journey toward better mental health.