With the increasing stressors of daily life, more people are struggling with mental health disorders. Additionally, the unprecedented pandemic times contributed to a rise in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Psychedelic therapy was once considered a promising treatment for several mental illnesses. Today, researchers are showing renewed interest in this form of treatment after a long time.
But what exactly is psychedelic therapy? What is its process? And how accurate are the claims that it helps with mental health challenges?
In case you’re already contemplating these questions, we’ve compiled some valuable and in-depth information on this form of therapy. So, let’s dig right into it!
What is Psychedelic Therapy?
Psychedelic therapy typically involves a dialogue between the patient and his psychiatrist. In the first step, the psychiatrist gives the patient a capsule of psilocybin for psychological support.
Psilocybin is a primary ingredient of a unique species of mushrooms known as “magic mushrooms.” It is pretty effective for treating mental health illnesses like anxiety, depression, addiction, or PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder).
So, we can consider that psychedelic therapy is a form of talk therapy held after the patient is given a dose of psilocybin.
Furthermore, the session takes place in a comfortable room where only the patient and psychiatrist are present.
This was just a quick summary. Before moving to the detailed process, you should know about substances other than psilocybin used in psychedelic therapy. In the next section, you can learn about these drugs.
What Types of Drugs are Involved?
Here are a few other substances that induce psychedelic effects.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) can alter a person’s thoughts and feelings. Besides, it can help with mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction.
MDMA is very helpful in Psychedelic Therapy and takes about 45 minutes to work. If the patient is shy in expressing his feelings, MDMA renders that emotional warmth, encouraging them to share their emotions with the therapist.
The drug has therapeutic properties and helps with a couple of mental issues.
Ayahuasca is a traditional South African psychoactive brew.
This brew alters your emotional state while also working on your brain health and conditions such as PTSD and addiction.
What is the Process of Psychedelic Therapy?
Now, let’s come to the main topic – Psychedelic Therapy. If you’re reading about it for the first time, the following lines will add more to your knowledge base.
Typically psychedelic therapy involves three steps. These phases may last up to 6 months to achieve the total effectiveness of the process.
During preparation, the psychiatrist and the patient get to know one another. A conversion eventually takes place between them, and they form a relationship of trust.
Once the patient gets comfortable, they move on to the next session.
The psychedelic session involves the following steps:
- The patient receives a dose of psilocybin in the form of a capsule
- After this, the psychiatrist leads the patient into an entirely private room assigned solely for this purpose
- The patient then lies down in a comfortable bed
- Next, he wears an eye mask and headphones. The music played in the headphones is a special playlist for the session.
- By wearing an eye mask and headphones, the patient can focus on their internal self and thoughts.
The psilocybin effect can last up to 7 hours.
Integration is the most crucial phase of the session. Why? Because this is where a psychiatrist gets to know about the emotional triggers responsible for the patients’ mental illness.
The psychiatrist encourages the patient to discuss his feelings during the psilocybin experience.
This phase aims to:
- Develop patients’ ideas with the therapist’s support.
- Identify and modify problematic emotional and psychological patterns
So, is the entire process of Psychedelic therapy effective? Here’s what we found about its usefulness.
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Effectiveness of Psychedelic Therapy
Psychotherapy seems to be beneficial for treating some mental health issues.
Anxiety and Depression
A thin line separates anxiety and depression. While both illnesses share a few common symptoms, these are different conditions. For instance, depression is a single illness, while anxiety may involve a group of disorders.
To complicate it further, a person can suffer from both at a time. So it may be difficult to tell them apart. However, a psychiatrist can identify both.
The good news is, psychedelic therapy is known to treat both conditions.
In a study, 130 patients were given psilocybin, LSD, and ayahuasca for several months. These treatments had antidepressant as well as anxiolytic effects on patients.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a psychological disorder that might occur in someone who encountered a traumatic experience previously. While this may be the typical reason, not all PTSD patients experience illness because of it. PTSD can be genetic too.
Luckily, psilocybin can break the traumatic cycle in patients with PTSD.
Addiction is another mental condition that has adverse effects on the patient’s quality of life. However, studies show that psychedelic therapy has helped patients reduce alcohol cravings while equally plummeting their alcohol intake.
Furthermore, psilocybin also helps with tobacco addiction.
However, it is vital to note that a few studies cannot determine the safety of a particular therapy. This is because treatments work differently for each individual, just like medicine does. Hence, more research is needed in this field.
Word of Caution: Research studies involve patients receiving a prescribed dose under the supervision of a professional therapist. Therefore, You should never try self-treatment with psychedelics; otherwise, it may lead to adverse side effects.
Mental health conditions are on the rise, and health professionals are turning to alternative treatments. As a result, psychedelic therapy is all the rage these days.
For the most part, research indicates the effectiveness and usefulness of this treatment in treating several mental health conditions, but we cannot proclaim it a safe option for everyone.
Researchers are still in the process of examining this treatment form. It will help them figure out which substances are most useful for a specific condition. Also, they will be able to determine the precise dose and mechanism of action of the drug.