Psychedelic Therapy: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research

Psychedelic Therapy: A Paradigm Shift in Psychiatric Research

Therapy sessions

Psychedelic therapy, also known as psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, or PAP is a kind of mental health treatment in which the patient consumes a psychedelic drug as a component of the psychotherapy procedure. Psychedelic therapy usually combines the use of psychedelics with talk therapy. In both clinical and nonclinical contexts, a variety of consciousness-altering psychedelic drugs are presently being used or studied for therapeutic purposes. Certain substances, such as ibogaine, DMT, peyote, ayahuasca, and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), are derived from plants. Others are chemical substances, such as LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. The growing legalization of some psychedelic drugs, an increase in mental illnesses, and a decline in psycho-pharmacological research are all contributing to its growing popularity.

It is advised not to self-treat with psychedelics. People are given a specified, pure dose, are supervised during the psychedelic experience in clinical settings, and receive professional help from a therapist to integrate the experience.

Also Read: Psychedelics: Proved As a Mental Health Treatment

Why it is utilized

Scientists produced a wide range of evidence between the 1950s and 1970s, outlawing them with the Controlled Substances Act, both confirming and indicating the therapeutic potential of psychedelic therapy to treat:

  • Addiction
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression
  • PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Rekindled interest and funding have spurred more research in recent years, most of it ongoing.
1. Ketamine

The most researched psychedelic substance for mental health therapy is Ketamine. Numerous trials investigating its potential to treat depression have found that it is helpful at low doses, but the effects are transient.

Research, for instance, from a reliable source indicates that patients with severe depression experience notable improvements following treatment, with effects typically lasting six to eight weeks.

A medication known as Spravato was developed as a result of these discoveries. It is a nasal spray that contains the active component, ketamine. On the other hand, intravenous ketamine administration is thought to be more cost-effective and efficient.

Also Read: Hypnosis- A myth or reality


According to several phase 2 clinical trials, which are conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a treatment, MDMA may be able to treat PTSD symptoms for up to four years.

Additionally, a phase 3 trial involving MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD has been completed by researchers. This trial aims to determine whether a treatment is more effective than the currently available options. This was the first phase 3 trial of any therapy that included psychedelics.

After three treatments, 67 percent of the 90 individuals with severe PTSD no longer met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, and 88 percent showed fewer symptoms.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the trial’s sponsor, says the findings may pave the way for FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval by 2023.

3. Psilocybin

The primary ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has demonstrated efficacious treatment of anxiety and depression in patients with end-stage illnesses.

More research is needed, but experts think it may also help with addiction, treatment-resistant depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Also Read: What is Schema Therapy?

4. LSD

Among those with terminal illnesses, long-acting, potent LSD is thought to be the model for therapeutic psychedelics because of its ability to help with anxiety and alcohol use disorder.

Process of psychedelic treatment – Their working

Your guide will be able to advise you on the precise dosage, number of treatments required, and approach to psychedelic therapy, as clinicians are currently assessing the efficacy of their treatments. Nevertheless, the majority of psychedelic treatment in clinical settings is carried out in three stages:

1. Consultation

    To make sure you are not ineligible for the treatment, the first step is typically a pre-consultation. This is also a good time to talk about your personal history, your goals for psychedelic therapy, and any worries you may have.

    2. Ingestion

    The second stage entails consuming the psychedelic drug under the guidance of a qualified therapist, either orally or by injection. Typically, the number of sessions needed varies based on the type of psychedelic and the regimen. For example:

    • Typically, clinicians typically require at least three sessions for MDMA-assisted treatment.
    • Therapy with ketamine assistance can take one to twelve sessions.
    • LSD and psilocybin-assisted therapy usually require two or more sessions.
    3. Integration

    In the final stage, known as the integration process, the client and therapist collaborate to incorporate the meaning derived from the psychedelic experiences.

    Also Read: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    Are there any dangers?

    Since the 2020 Global Drug Survey revealed a rise in the number of people reporting they are using psychedelics to self-treat a variety of mental health issues, some experts have voiced concerns about the rise in self-medicating.

    • A lot of these worries are related to the lack of medical supervision and the possible contamination of substances that don’t originate from a laboratory.
    • Apart from that, people generally consider psychedelic drugs to pose low risks, especially when used in a medical setting.
    • MDMA occasionally causes brief spikes in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, but these effects usually subside after usage.
    • Similar to this, psilocybin may momentarily raise blood pressure or give rise to mild headaches.
    • Having said that, research has connected psychedelics to a higher risk of psychosis in individuals with psychotic disorders or a susceptibility to them.
    • Additionally, there is a chance of hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD), especially when using LSD. This uncommon disorder causes severe hallucinations and flashbacks. Experts point out that this seems to happen more frequently when using drugs without a doctor’s supervision, though.
    • Ibogaine raises several questions, one of which is its potential connection to lethal cardiac arrhythmias. Due to this, it has only seen application in observational trials addressing opioid addiction up to this point.

    Finding a professional

    The potential of psychedelic therapies is a topic of great interest. Consequently, there are an increasing number of new clinics, therapists, mentors, and international retreats opening up.

    It is important to realize that using psychedelic substances can alter consciousness and leave you open to suggestions, whether you are in a clinical setting or on a retreat.

    Also Read: The Impact of Virtual Reality Technology on Therapy

    Consequently, certain study or treatment participants have allegedly engaged in unethical, and occasionally even criminal, behavior. Examine reviews, assess accreditation, and think about ways to maintain accountability if something goes wrong during or following treatment.

    For several reasons, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is a significant advancement. Improvement usually lasts long after the end of active treatment, and it produces long-lasting effects after only a very brief course of treatment. PAP is a brand-new therapeutic approach where medication and psychotherapy complement one another. The approach is further changing the way we approach mental illness, shifting from the daily correction of neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain toward modifying and meaningfully interpreting conscious experience.

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