Using Psychedelics To Treat Depression

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy (MDMA)

It’s been a long struggle, more or less since the days of Timothy Leary and Albert Hofmann in the ’60s, but doctors and scientists are finally being allowed to treat depression with some of the most effective drugs known to them: psychedelics. Anne Harding reports for CNN/Health.com:

Pamela Sakuda, 57, was anxious and depressed. After two years of intensive chemotherapy for late-stage colon cancer, and having outlived her prognosis by several months, she’d finally lost hope. She was living in fear and was worried how her impending death would affect her husband.

Sakuda’s doctor prescribed antidepressants, but they didn’t do any good. So, at her wits’ end and feeling that she had nothing to lose, Sakuda volunteered for an experimental depression treatment being studied at UCLA.

In January 2005, with a pair of trained therapists at her side, Sakuda took a pill of psilocybin — a hallucinogen better known as the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms.”

It may seem far-fetched that a psychedelic drug associated with muddy hippies at Woodstock would help a cancer patient at a university hospital. Yet it’s an increasingly familiar scene.

Although mind-bending drugs such as psilocybin are still used most often by people looking to get high, researchers around the country have begun to explore whether these and other illegal drugs can help treat intractable depression, anxiety, and other mental-health problems.

In the past month alone, studies have been published on the benefits of MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) in people with post-traumatic stress disorder and on the fast-acting antidepressive effects of the club drug ketamine (aka “Special K”). The study in which Sakuda took part is scheduled to appear in a major journal in early September. So far the studies have been small, but the results have been encouraging and bigger trials are on the horizon.

Drugs such as psilocybin and Ecstasy can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But when taken under professional supervision and combined with therapy, researchers say, just one or two doses can help patients unlock the sources of their troubles and experience therapeutic breakthroughs that otherwise might take months or years…

[continues at CNN/Health.com]

, , , , ,

  • Your Mom

    There's a fairly good track record of treating some mental disorders with psychedelics, when the drugs are used under certain conditions. Seems like a good move to investigate further.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      I'm impressed…and a little frightened. There is not one part of those two sentences that I disagree with.

  • VR

    And the pointless comment of the week award goes to (as always) Your Mom!

  • Kyle N

    I think I got a little taste of what E is like yesterday when I OD'ed on sunshine. (Living in Seattle, you can do that in summer. Not a joke!) I looked at the blue sky above, hardly a cloud up there, and said to myself, “Oh my God. That is the bluest fucking sky I have ever seen!” I felt like dancing. I have never done drugs in my life. If I could have that feeling every day, or at least every other day or even once a week, I'd eventually regard my decades of struggling with Bipolar II and anxiety as a bad nightmare, soon forgotten.

    They've said all along that there are no shortcut wonder drugs to treat psychiatric disorders. Bullshit. Just say NO to the War on Drugs! (Coming from someone who, many years ago, bought all the nonsense they try to feed us about “bad” drugs hook, line and sinker. Not anymore.)

    • Earbudcontender

      Everyone that does E says that they want to have that feeling everyday. But like all things it gets boring after a while. It releases endorphins and if you use the supply that's stored in your brain too fast you get depressed. So I treats depression by releasing endorphins on individuals where the chemicals have been inhibited to a greater amount then on a healthy individual. Have fun but don't over do it, there are details to everything.

      • Gemmarama

        drugs are not an infinite well of wisdom, it's a finite experience really. if you have an enquiring mind you learn all you can from them one day and move on. i stopped gubbing chemicals years ago for this reason, but also cos i couldn't handle the tuesday/wednesday “why is everything so wrong?!) feeling anymore. as carrie fisher once said of manic depression, “one mood's the meal, the next is the cheque.”

        however drugs have indeed opened my mind to certain ways of thinking and feeling that i'm not sure i would have discovered otherwise. i'd do it all again, but probably twice as much.

        i lost count of the amount of deep-and-meaningfuls i had with a variety of different folk, friends and randoms, under the influence of various substances over the years. you become closer to your friends through having these shared bonding experiences. it's easy to see why they would be helpful in therapy. although it's always deeply irritating when you accidentally make up with that person you swore you'd never speak to again…

  • justagirl

    i have never, in my life, witnessed a more depressed and moody bunch of slugs than those who had just woke up from an ecstasy “party” the night before.

    • Earbudcontender

      yeah depending on the pill be Xed out is the worse. I'll stick to the boomers

      • justagirl

        you might as well (lol). are you canadian?

  • http://hairygoon.com Delrond

    There has also been some great moves forward with using Psychedelics to treat addiction. Ibogaine and LCD have been shown in reasearch to provide releif and more importantly perspective to heroin addicts and alchoholics.

    Psychedelics are not silver bullets but when used in the right way (great setting, full support from doctors and physchologists..etc) then these drugs can be used to create a mindset that the persons ego(personality) won't normally allow.

    It's sad that there are hundreds of depressed people on earth being pumped with anti-depressants that have the same affect as sugar pills.

    I hope that this research is allowed to continue so that more people can be helped through difficult times without being drip fed on the filth created from Big pharma.

  • Cerebralsubversion

    This is positive, but you're just decoding psychedelic drugs for the squares. Fuck yeah they can improve your life. Not just the lives of depressed people. Inspire creativity? Yes, and please. Completely shatter your materialist worldview and make you take an interest in your own spirituality. Again, yes. Wow, shamans had something to say after all.

    All these years of exterminating their culture and insisting their ideas were bullshit, and wow, a society controlled by the few, where we spend the majority of our resources finding new ways to kill and expoit each other. Depression at an all time high. Obesity at an all time high. Prescription drug abuse at an all time high. More self loathing drunks than ever. Did we kill off the shaman priests or did they curse the shit out of us?

    I just love how the article completely avoids experiential stories about the participants trips, because it's far too odd to handle. Also, they're hinting at something there but not really getting into it. THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF A DRUG LIKE PSILOCYBIN IS TO HELP ALLEVIATE PEOPLE'S FEAR OF DEATH. Wait, isn't that what religion is supposed to do? Ruh roh?

    • justagirl

      wrong. no. and not ruh roh.

      • Tuna Ghost

        I'm afraid that's not entirely helpful, justagirl. To what are you referring? The brief (and incorrect) definition of religion's purpose? The primary use of psilocybin as reported by the guy there? The extermination of shamanic cultures?

        • justagirl

          TUNA!… i see the clout has worn off. i contemplated getting busy answering your questions in terms that would be acceptable to you, but my ouija t-shirt said “no”. i bet, because you were rude to me and really don't care what i think. you're old enough and smart enough to answer those questions on your own. maybe YOU should try being brief, then i could actually get through your boring posts. thanks for contacting me as yourself instead of creeping around, anyway.

          • Tuna Ghost

            …I understood very little of that. At any rate, just trying to raise the standard of discussion in these parts.

          • justagirl

            i know what you were doing, cowboy. it's rarely good enough for you.

          • justagirl

            so, what did you not understand? about what i said.

          • Tuna Ghost

            The references to “clout”, “oujia t-shirts”, and “creeping around” went completely over my head and appear to pertain to events or things of which I have no experience or knowledge.

          • justagirl

            oh. ha ha! that’s a relief.

  • DeepCough

    Finally–we're allowed to use drugs that actually cure something!

  • eclectic

    Can we say MK ULTRA? Youtube it and you'll see the potential dangers of using psychedelics to treat depression…

    • Haystack

      MK ULTRA was a failure, though.

  • ElvisRmrz

    Dutch psychiatrist Jan Bastiaans used to treat war victims with lsd for years:
    http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v09n2/09203maa

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Under clinical supervision…why not? The drug war and its raging paranoia are slowly starting to show signs of losing ground around the country. I'm happy to see doctors and law enforcement grudgingly accepting that certain drugs which were overused for entertainment really do have legitimate purposes where they can be put to use. Making good use of these things to help people with serious issues is not the slippery slope that some pretend. Done under carefully controlled circumstances this could do enormous good.

    • justagirl

      good. but, i don't think that “slippery slope” was or is pretend.

      • emperorreagan

        I agree. The slippery slope isn't pretend.

        The slippery slope isn't psychedelics or pot, though. The slippery slope to hard drug use is already our legal friend booze.

        • justagirl

          *buurka* woah! where did that come from??

        • Tuna Ghost

          don't forget the most common “gateway” drug, tabacco.

          • oman28

            I don't believe in gateway drugs – Just gateway individuals

  • Haystack

    I'm glad to see CNN reporting this. Medical research into psychedelics is just now becoming feasible again, and its possible that positive findings will not only lead to clinical applications, but cause society at large to rethink these substances in general. There's some question in my mind as to whether psychedelics will be feasible within the context of rationalized medical institutions–what happens if a bad trip in the therapist's office becomes the occasion for a $1 million lawsuit? It is easy to imagine these substances being mishandled by, say, drug companies who just want to market them as yet another antidepressant.

  • Stefano

    Timothy Leary says this story is 40 years old.

    • Stefano

      And apparently my comment is also outdated, judging by the first paragraph. FML

    • Haystack

      Leary is part of the reason it got shut down in the first place.

      • AGENTORANGE

        Timothy Leary, the spook busted by the black panthers?…. Funny how most people don’t know one of the biggest counter culture icons was an agent and spreading government LSD… made by eli lilly. Just think about the message he was passing too kids turn on, tune in, drop out. Ever wonder why the peace movement of the 60’s died.

  • oman28

    This is great but needs more research especially with regards to long term treatment.

    I once took a large amount of both LSD and Mushrooms over a three week period and this affected me for about 6 months after. I had fits of deep depression and mental lapses like forgetting why I was driving in my car. I also felt very detached from myself and who I was. And if I smoked pot I could induce hallucinations like moving walls and carpets.

    Psychodelics and mdma are great but only for occasional use. If people are being treated with these powerful mind altering substances then it must be monitored very carefully.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe in gateway drugs – Just gateway individuals

  • Kevin

    Doctors were using LSD to treat alcoholism a long time ago. LSD has never been found to cause brain damage,
    unlike mdma which dissolves brain cells.

  • Father Time

    Natural remedies ftw, nature cant be patented, thats why cannabis is illegal to grow in all but one country on the planet. Who can make money off of pain killers when MJ can be cultivated in 2 months, to last another 2 months?? NO one, so they got rid of competition. Also ‘Shooms are linked to phychokenetic and esp abilities.

  • Father Time

    Natural remedies ftw, nature cant be patented, thats why cannabis is illegal to grow in all but one country on the planet. Who can make money off of pain killers when MJ can be cultivated in 2 months, to last another 2 months?? NO one, so they got rid of competition. Also ‘Shooms are linked to phychokenetic and esp abilities.

  • AGENTORANGE

    Timothy Leary, the spook busted by the black panthers?…. Funny how most people don’t know one of the biggest counter culture icons was an agent and spreading government LSD… made by eli lilly. Just think about the message he was passing too kids turn on, tune in, drop out. Ever wonder why the peace movement of the 60’s died.

  • justagirl

    so, what did you not understand? about what i said.

  • Tuna Ghost

    The references to “clout”, “oujia t-shirts”, and “creeping around” went completely over my head and appear to pertain to events or things of which I have no experience or knowledge.

  • justagirl

    oh. ha ha! that’s a relief.

  • Pingback: How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death | Disinformation

21