In people with advanced cancer, hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
About 10% of cancer patients feel anxious, while 20% report depression. However, current research shows that currently available prescription antidepressants do not significantly reduce depressive symptoms in cancer patients compared with placebo.
My team and I recently completed a meta-analysis of five clinical trials examining symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with advanced forms of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. . We found that taking hallucinogens alone, specifically LSD, psilocybin or MDMA reduced depression scores measured by the Becks Depression Inventory by six points, where a score below 10 represents minimal or no depression and above 30 indicates severe depression. Mean baseline scores were between 15 and 18 for most studies, although one trial had a baseline score of approximately 30. Psychedelics also reduced anxiety scores as measured by the Trait Anxiety Inventory. status scores range from seven to eight points, with a score of 20 to 37 indicating no or little anxiety and a score of 45 to 80 indicating high anxiety. The average score is between 40 and 55 but is approximately 60 in one test.
In a trial of 51 cancer patients, 60% of those treated with a single high dose of psilocybin had clinical remission of depression and 52% had remission of anxiety. By comparison, 16% of those taking the placebo experienced remission from depression and 12% from anxiety. These effects were still maintained six months later.
Hallucinations and trauma
Why would one to two sessions of psychedelic therapy be more effective than taking daily prescription medications like fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil)?
Receiving a cancer diagnosis and experiencing side effects from treatments can be traumatic. In severe cases, patients may develop cancer-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
People who develop PTSD as a result of military service or physical or sexual violence often experience depression and anxiety. Research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, in which psychotherapists combine psychedelic therapy sessions with traditional counseling, has shown that this treatment can reduce symptoms symptoms of PTSD effectively by allowing the patient to be willing and able to share traumatic memories to help process them. This reduction was larger than the reduction in studies of prescription antidepressants alone.
Based on this research, my team and I hypothesize that psychedelic therapy sessions may have an advantage over traditional prescription antidepressants for patients with depression or anxiety-related depression. related to cancer because it can help them address underlying trauma.
Several trials in our review documented what patients considered to be the reason for the relief they experienced from the anxiety and depression symptoms they experienced. Patients reported that psychedelic therapy sessions helped them process intense emotions they were suppressing without becoming overwhelmed. Although the cleanse was emotional and difficult, it helped them achieve acceptance of those emotions, reducing feelings of isolation and internal withdrawal.
The unknown in psychedelic therapy
Although these results are promising, there are limitations to the existing research that may bias the results. Some of the advanced cancer studies we examined included people with a history of using hallucinogens. People with previous positive recreational psychedelic experiences may be more likely to participate in these studies than people who have had a bad trip or are completely opposed to drug use. Additionally, although a placebo is made to look identical, the patient or caregiver is unlikely to be fooled if it does not cause a hallucinogenic effect.
Although previous studies have found lackluster benefits from traditional antidepressants compared with placebo in PTSD and cancer-related anxiety and depression, no clinical trials have directly compared them. The effectiveness of traditional antidepressants with hallucinogens in patients with PTSD or cancer. However, a completed early-phase trial comparing psilocybin with the traditional antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) in patients with major depression found that 57% of those taking psilocybin achieved clinical remission, compared with only 28% used escitalopram.
Finally, psychedelic sessions cause high blood pressure. This may not be the best treatment for patients with poorly controlled hypertension or heart disease.
Next steps for people with hallucinations
More research is needed on the effectiveness of psychedelic drugs in treating anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Exploring psychedelic treatments for patients with other life-threatening conditions that cause trauma, anxiety, or depression may shed light on their potential therapeutic benefits.
If the Food and Drug Administration approves this hallucinogen for this type of use, the agency will need to find a legal use for these hallucinogens. As Schedule 1 drugs, they are currently banned for any medical use in the United States. Researchers must register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to research controlled substances. However, the FDA set a precedent with its June 2018 approval of cannabadiol (Epidiolex) to treat rare seizure disorders in children, although this cannabis derivative remains banned by the Food and Drug Administration. Banned Pharmaceutical exam.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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