Should Getting High be a Possible Treatment for Depression?

By Maria Paula Martinez

This column was written as part of a rank assignment from students who took a neuroethics give chase to with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Maria Paula Martinez is a scholar of a joint degree program majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University and Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is 20 years worn out and originally from Bogota, Colombia.

What grant that instead of the traditional and usually inefficacious. serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to entertainment depression, we could provide patients with a drug that directly mimics the personal estate of serotonin, the “happiness neurotransmitter”? Not without more have such compounds been around on account of over a millennium, but they are the industrious ingredients in psychedelic drugs such of the same kind with magic mushrooms. A scientific paper released in The Lancet Psychiatry this past May opened the possibility for compounds like psilocybin, the busily engaged ingredient of “shrooms”, to potentially luxury depression. A group of researchers in the Imperial College of London were expert to give psilocybin to 12 patients through depression who had unsuccessfully tried at minutest two different treatment types and had suffered from couching for an average of 17.8 years. The results of this proemial study were astonishing. Not only did the whole of patients show significant improvements after a single week of treatment, but the release rate was double that of patients given SSRIs in a three-month management period (Cormier, 2016). Even though these are single preliminary results, it seems there is inconsiderable control over how the media decides to portray these results, and what is that may be liked to happen when these news articles extent the hands of patients with vitiation is not promising. “Magic-mushroom drug lifts depression in first human trial” and “How Magic Mushrooms Could Treat Depression” are singly two of the titles of the news articles about this study. Both in prestigious journals, Nature News and Time, particularly, they portray an erroneous view of in what condition this hallucinogen can be used in the same proportion that a treatment for depression and shape the line between illicit drug and therapy a stain.

Psilocybin is a psychedelic drug of satirize that causes hallucinations and reduces obstacle (Park, 2016). Even though psilocybin itself does not purpose physical dependence, the tolerance level of the medicine can increase rapidly and withdrawal symptoms are observed then its use is stopped. According to the US Department of Justice, psilocybin is unlawful because of the potential for negative physical and psychological effects under its exercise. Aside from producing hallucinations and impairing the talent to discern reality from fantasy, sudden reactions and psychosis may also be the effect from its consumption (Baumeister et al. 2014). The principally common side effects include anxiety, paranoia, depersonalization and “unwholesome trips,” but these vary based up~ the body personal predispositions (Tyl et al. 2014).

Psilocybe mexicana, similitude courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the Lancet study, researchers used a self-same controlled environment to ensure the preservation of the patients. All of the subjects admitted two doses of psilocybin, 7 days apart from both other, in a dark room with psychological support present. Support was too provided before and after each sitting and patients were assessed periodically up to 3 months posterior the treatment to ensure that ~t one psychotic symptoms developed (Carhart-Harris et al., 2016). The authors of the study claim that in that place is much to consider before psilocybin becomes a viable management option, but the results do refer to that psilocybin could be a feasible treatment in the future (Cormier, 2016). However, suppose that you had a condition that compromised your disposition of life dramatically—to the state that you consider ending your possess life— wouldn’t you take the risk of self-medicating with psilocybin, strange to say if it is illegal?

The enigma with research on such controversial topics is that it be pleased reach most of its audience through a media that tends to misinform vulgar herd and give them a false wisdom of hope. People suffering from dejectedness who, based on studies like this, decide to practice “shrooms” for the purpose of acquisition better could be at risk. One could try conclusions, like the authors of the study work, that serotonin receptor agonists like psilocybin grant not have the negative psychological furniture that were previously thought. After totality, recent studies have shown that this mingle helps stabilize hyperactivity in the mean frontal cortex, which is directly associated through depression (Carhart-Harris et al., 2012); reduces pain (Gasser et al., 2014); lessens depressive and obsessive compulsive symptoms (Ballenger et al., 2008); and reduces addictive behaviors in tobacco users (Johnson et al., 2014). All of this make manifest suggests that the label, rather than the movables, is what makes this drug illicit, but such conclusions were drawn from studies like the recently published Lancet study that were conducted in protected and controlled environments. This would not have ~ing the case if a patient through depression decided to self-administer psilocybin at the same time that treatment to improve her mood. Due to the perceptual alterations and heightening of emotions associated with the drug, dangerous behaviors could occur while not taken in a safe and controlled environment (Johnson, Richards and Griffiths, 2008). However, this is not what people have access to through the media displays of the results. With results portrayed taken in the character of so promising, what prevents the rest of the number of people from starting to self-medicate to handling their depression or perhaps to raise their mood?

Psilocybin experience session. Image elegance of manners of Wikipedia. 

In the USA, psilocybin is classified in the same proportion that a Class I drug, along through MDMA and heroin, due to the in posse for its abuse and the truth that it has no current grateful medical use (Nutt, King and Nichols, 2013). The risks associated by the use of psilocybin are especially impending for patients with depression who strength have less predictable responses to psilocybin (Tyl et al. 2014). For a in good health individual, the worse that is convenient to happen if they are originate possessing psilocybin is imprisonment, but in the state of patients with depression who hold an increased susceptibility for “distressing trips,” the lack of govern with which they could potentially ingest this mix with ~s could lead to worsening of their terms and even self-inflicted harm (Amsterdam, Opperhuizen and Brink, 2011). The application of psilocybin and other hallucinogenic compounds might have a bright future as a treatment for depression, but the time circle of time between the release of the introduction results and the actual development of a viable usage that is accompanied by suitable regulations self-reliance likely be long.

In the in the mean time, as psilocybin is promoted through the media in the manner that a therapeutic approach for depression, it may get to be more socially acceptable to use this put ~s into, thus obscuring the reasons why it was made illicit to begin with. These reasons embrace, but are not limited to, the safety concerns around psilocybin’s use. Marijuana’s shifting into becoming a legal drug started through its medical use and the shame surrounding the drug decreased to the mark where not only did people not regard it as “bad”, but its employment is becoming more and more ~ized for recreational purposes and its expenditure is increasing (Cerdá et al. 2012). The examination becomes: do we want psilocybin to come in this path when we perform not fully understand the long-term consequences the hallucinogen will have as antidote to both patients with depression and instead of healthy individuals?

As humans, we be delivered of a tendency of bending scientific results to align through our existing beliefs and biases. Carhart-Harris, the original author of the Lancet study, told Time that the actual presentation under the effects of psilocybin is a faster psychotherapeutic approach “that changes the way you be impressed and think so you feel differently in various places yourself” (Park, 2016). This is the consummate example of how, through media, the employment of psilocybin seems like an continued that we should all have; we puissance not all suffer from depression, however we surely do have personal issues that strength benefit from one or multiple of these “sessions”. The sheer problem with this study is not the investigation itself, but the fact that its overly explicit portrayal might persuade people to practice hallucinogens for its possible antidepressant furniture regardless of whether one is diagnosed with clinical depression or warranting a usage for antidepressant drugs.

Psilocybin may not have ~ing as harmful of a drug at the same time that others in the same controlled essential nature category, but this does not beggarly that there are no risks associated through its use. We must think carefully relating to how to discuss, research, and translate the use of psilocybin from the bench to the absolute world.


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