How Psychedelic Drugs Are Making A Comeback To Treat Depression


Depression. It can be a difficult mental illness to pin down. It can feel different for everyone and even those who struggle with it can have trouble identifying bought. It is a mostly came to understood that. I had depression through talking with my friends for the longest time. I kind of system that everyone felt this way. Like weird just like general malays for this twenty nine year old. Depression surfaced about six years ago and began as a feeling of being disconnected with the world. I didn't want to eat because they didn't feel like i deserve to eat. I don't know. I didn't hang out with friends because i didn't feel like i deserve to see my friends. I didn't feel like i should be punishing them by talking to them seeing them. This person uses they them pronouns. They're a maryland resident and work as a software tester. They sought help for their depression. Trying numerous types of treatments may visited a bunch of different mental health professionals and tried different types of arby's In different types of medication but it always kinda felt like things were getting worse and worse and a current really find someone who has really helped me understand what was going on like. I still didn't even believe that. I had depression. All the while the depression advanced it felt like being alive and lake wanting to die rolling constantly fighting over like the resources in my mind then. Their health insurance lapsed in two thousand eighteen making the situation worse a surprise solution appeared while they were scrolling on social media and a posting from johns hopkins university researchers and then one day i was kind of like clicking through facebook and i actually found this ad four like this little simon. Study silla simon. That's the psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms. And i thought it was fake remarks. I didn't expect there to be you know like a a legitimate study showing up on like facebook ad but they had no insurance basically they were out of options so they called wanted to have hope again from the wall street journal. This is the future of everything. I'm janet babbling today on the podcast. How the hallucinogenic compounds silla zyban once associated with nine hundred sixty s drug culture is making a comeback and giving people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses. Hope for this twenty nine year old study participant. Depression was not something that happened in their family. My family's from the caribbean and lived in america probably for about lake in years. We came here in ninety nine. It's kind of interesting because where from like a place that doesn't really view mental health. The that like america's mental health. It took me a while to realize that. I was having mental health problems that i was kind of experiencing depression. Depression affects a staggering number of people hundreds of millions worldwide according to a study published in the peer reviewed journal the lancet in two thousand eighteen. The pandemic didn't make things any easier. Last june about a third of people who responded to web based surveys said they suffered from symptoms of depression or anxiety disorder. Those results were published by the centers for disease control and prevention the protocol for treating these conditions hasn't changed much in the past few years. What we've been using is typically one of two things either a medication that people take every day or we have psychotherapy dr. Alan davis is clinical psychologist and an assistant professor at the ohio state university. He's also an adjunct assistant. Professor at johns hopkins university. A lot of people will improve with either medication or therapy or both to basically have both have a better chance but it doesn't work for everyone. Some studies report between ten and thirty. Five percent of patients suffer from treatment resistant. Depression and davis is that similar to what he's found in his own practice working with veterans suffering from substance abuse trauma and other mental health issues. So he began looking for alternative treatments present and welcome to psychedelic science. Two thousand and thirteen in twenty thirteen davis attended a science conference and came across a study exploring the use of silla. Sivan a chemical compound found in specific varieties of mushrooms to treat cancer patients with mental health conditions. The compounds documented facts include feelings of heightened awareness ecstasy visions and changes in the perception of reality for researchers say one of the most useful qualities is its ability to dissolve the ego to allow a user to observe oneself from the outside in the study of cancer patients. The drug was able to alleviate some of the anxiety and depression that can be associated with having a life threatening illness. I was just inspired by that word. I thought gosh this really could have a strong impact in the areas that i'm working with veterans and with others davis became part of a team of researchers at johns hopkins university that put together a randomized clinical trial. Twenty four participants. They were administered. Silla sivan with talk therapy to treat their depression. Enrollment for the trial took place in two thousand seventeen and twenty nineteen and the results were analyzed in two thousand twenty. Most of them had had chronic depression meaning decades of experiencing depression though not some had had it for shorter amount of time but this study was a weightless control trials so some people came in and started treatment right away. Others had to wait eight weeks before starting treatment so we had a comparison group. The study subjects received an extensive intake examined questionnaire to confirm. They were suffering from symptoms of depression. Participants were screened for schizophrenia. And drug use as these conditions can interfere with suicide and treatment. The big worry many people have about psychedelics is what's often referred to as a bad trip. Mary negative hallucinations. That can be scary and this is kind of trip that can go bad. Martissant received hefty doses of these drugs. The doses are based on weight and they vary slightly but patients receive around twenty milligrams in the first session a bit more in the second session to minimize the risk of a negative experience. Davis says researchers focused on controlling. What's called and setting. They work ahead of time to ensure the volunteers current mood and surroundings while taking the drugs. Remain as calm and comfortable as possible and so we spend about eight to ten hours with people before they ever get the drug talking about what the effects are talking about. What may or may not happen when they have this experience and that's why we have to train professionals there with them not only to prepare them for that but to help them through the experience when it happens because a lot of people have anxiety coming into the session. The person we spoke to the twenty nine year old participated in davis study group in august of two thousand eighteen. They had no prior experience with psychedelic drugs and didn't know watch expect basically went in kind of blindly. I don't have any other options. So that's kind of my thought process at the time was just basically kind of sticking anything to the wall and hoping it would work after fasting the previous night the treatment can cause nausea. They were placed in a small tranquil room fitted with a comfy couch. The whole room was a really really cool in very comforting because like they had like these statues like imagery in their end like. I think one of the muslim dowa tibetan model. I wanna say this and like there was like this nice lamp. It's off this really. Soft light psychedelic assisted. Therapy participants are encouraged to bring in objects from home to make them feel more comfortable. Some bring in ten bears pictures of family. The twenty nine year old brought a lightness of an ancient sumerian goddess. Soon nana once they were settled in the room. They were given two pills in a wooden cop the therapists top that the sivan would take fifteen to thirty minutes to start working. In the interim they were told to put on ice shades and headphones. That would play a selection of music they choose from classical tibetan chanting african drumming and modern music too. Once the drug fact the participants says the first session became a kaleidoscope of mental images and sensations. I remember being in lake. Felt like mount olympus the fall of the gods like oval the clouds and suffering them. And then one of my god's up to me and she gave me a key fell through the clouds. And i felt all the way down through the earth and i ended up in hell which is really strange because they don't remember being scared even though i was in hell and i remember asking like hey you know why am i hair And it was like haiti's leading me through hell kind of just like showing me around for life this very cold and desolate last. He was like of course. This is where you would come like. This is where you've made your home. The self revelations continued throughout this long session and turned intensely personal. I remember like hearing like the beats. Come on and i felt myself in like this place like all of my ancestors were and i was really close to my grandfather when i was a kid. And he died. Probably around when i was like four and i saw him kind of materialize And he walked towards the youth like these. She'll bananas which is what he's doing her then he handed one to me and i always kind of was afraid that if he was alive he would be disappointed in me and i remember asking him you know. When am i supposed to do like if my family like my parents and lake my siblings can accept me and he said that he'll always be there for me and my ancestors will always be there for me and i like that scene just like it. Metsu in mental to me after about seven hours than drugs started to wear off when it was over. You know you're still kind of like feeling it but just not as intensely so just basically like this really happy kind of floaty failing and we couldn't drive so like i had to have a sister pick me up. They ended the experience hungry and exhausted as for the depression not much appeared to have changed then. They tried the silla sivan trip once more this time with the stronger dose and after that these say they experienced to palpable shift. It felt like i was back into the world again like i was in reality. A lot of people said that not only was there. Depression differently felt like they had come out of dark hole that they've been in for years but a lot of people regardless of whether they're depression was gone or or reduced said that there was something really meaningful different about how they view their life initial results for the study reviewing outcomes from up to a month after the sessions were completed found that silla sivan plus therapy was more than four times more effective than other treatments. Such as medication alone at one week. Fifty eight percent of the sample were in complete remission from depression that actually lasted up to four weeks. After fifty four percent of people were in complete remission and were now studying those same people up to twelve months after to see how long that remission lasted the rest of the participants in the study. Were not in remission they were still experiencing clinically significant depressive symptoms researchers have yet to publish the results of longer term outcomes for all the participants their condition up to a year after treatment and this was a small study. Just twenty four people. Some scientists remain skeptical of this kind of treatment not just of silla simon. But of the validity of the data an outcomes for all studies involving psychoactive substances

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