Psychedelic therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses psychedelic substances such as LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA as adjuncts to traditional talk therapy. This type of therapy has been used for decades to treat various mental health issues including anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma. Because of the legal status of these substances, most of the work has been done “behind the scenes” but we are witnessing now a revolution in psychedelic medicine that could potentially change the landscape of psychology and psychiatry.
In recent years there has been a resurgence in the use of psychedelics in therapeutic settings due to promising research findings on their effectiveness. Psychedelic-assisted therapies can help people gain insight into their psychological issues by providing new perspectives and allowing them to explore difficult emotions in a safe environment with trained professionals.
Thanks to the pioneering work of MAPS, psychedelic medicines are on their way to revolutionizing how we treat anxiety, PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, and many other psychological disorders
What are psychedelics?
Psychedelic drugs, also known as hallucinogenics, psychedelics, and entheogens, are a group of psychoactive substances that produce altered states of consciousness and perceptual changes in the user. These drugs have been used for centuries for medicinal and spiritual purposes. They are known for their powerful effects on the mind and body, which include increased creativity, spiritual insight, altered perceptions of reality, out-of-body experiences, vivid dreams, and hallucinations.
The most common psychedelics include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline (peyote cactus), and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). These naturally occurring compounds bind to specialized serotonin receptors in the brain that influence mood, emotion, and cognitive processes. When taken at low doses they can produce feelings of relaxation, euphoria, and increased energy levels. At higher doses, they can lead to intense visual or auditory hallucinations and other profound psychological changes.
Different types of psychedelics
There are many different types of psychedelics, each with its own unique effects and risks. Some of the most commonly used psychedelics include:
LSD: LSD, or acid, is a powerful psychedelic that is known for its ability to produce intense changes in perception, mood, and consciousness. It is typically sold as a white or clear crystal and is taken orally, usually on a small piece of paper called a “blotter.”
Psilocybin: Psilocybin is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. It is a naturally occurring psychedelic that is found in certain species of mushrooms. When ingested, psilocybin is converted into psilocin, which is responsible for its effects on the brain.
Mescaline: Mescaline is the active ingredient in peyote and certain cacti, such as the San Pedro and Peruvian torch cactus. It is a naturally occurring psychedelic that has been used for centuries by indigenous peoples in Mexico and South America for religious and medicinal purposes.
The psychedelic Experience: MAPS
The psychedelic experience is often described as awe-inspiring or life-changing due to its intensity and potential for personal growth or transformation. It can be both emotionally challenging and deeply rewarding depending on the individual’s mental state before taking the drug as well as environmental factors like setting up a safe place where it will be taken with supportive individuals present during the journey. Long-term benefits from this type of therapy may include improved emotional regulation skills, decreased stress response, better sleep quality, improved relationships with others, enhanced self-image, increased problem-solving ability, greater acceptance of life circumstances, and improved coping mechanisms for trauma-related symptoms.
The latest Research on Psychedelics and Anxiety
Psychedelic therapy for anxiety has been the subject of extensive research over the past few decades. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a leading organization that works to advance scientific research on the therapeutic potential of these substances. MAPS has funded dozens of studies since its founding in 1986, with many focused on understanding how psychedelics can be used to treat anxiety disorders such as PTSD, depression, and addiction.
The majority of these studies involve controlled laboratory settings where individuals are given a single dose of a psychedelic drug and then monitored while undergoing psychotherapy sessions. In one study, subjects suffering from treatment-resistant PTSD were administered 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in combination with psychotherapy and found to have significant and lasting reductions in PTSD symptoms compared to those who only received psychotherapy without MDMA. Other studies involving psilocybin or LSD have also demonstrated similar results for other anxiety disorders including OCD and social phobia.
In addition to clinical trials, MAPS has also conducted long-term follow-up surveys with former participants in their studies. These surveys asked participants about any changes they had experienced both short-term and long-term after taking part in their trial. Most reported feeling more at peace with themselves after going through psychedelic therapy, along with increased clarity about their life purpose and better overall mental health.
MAPS’s research has provided invaluable insight into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics for treating anxiety disorders. While more research is needed before these substances can become widely accepted treatments, the data collected so far suggests that they may be effective tools for improving mental health outcomes in those who suffer from debilitating anxiety disorders like PTSD. As such, MAPS continues to lead the way by advocating for further research into this promising area so that more people can benefit from its potential healing properties.
(article reserch and completion in process. more coming soon)