While conventional treatments such as antidepressants are effective for many, they do not work for all patients and can have unwanted side effects. This is where psychedelic drugs can offer a new solution for patients with resistant depression (source 1).
Studies have shown that hallucinogenic substances such as ketamine, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca and MDMA have improved symptoms of depression in patients resistant to conventional treatments. These psychedelic drugs have recently been reintroduced into the field of psychiatric research, having been banned in the 1950s and 1960s due to their abuse. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of ketamine, an anesthetic that can be used for subanesthetic doses to treat depression. Patients with severe depression received a ketamine infusion under the supervision of a psychiatrist and reported a significant improvement in their mood. Ketamine was also included in the latest recommendations for the French Association of Biological Psychiatry and Neuropsychopharmacology, who cites it among the treatments for resistant depression.
“Psychedelics have a power over brain neuroplasticity. From a psychological point of view, the patient will experience another narrative about his identity, a kind of dissolution of his ego. The experience results in a psychological state of peace, a connection to something greater than oneself”, details Federico Seragnoli, psychologist specializing in psychotherapies assisted by psychedelics.
Besides ketamine, other psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca and MDMA are also being studied for their potential in treating depression. These substances act on the central nervous system by modifying neurotransmission and in increasing the production of neurotrophic factors. This can lead to reduced symptoms of depression and improved mood in patients. Although the use of psychedelic drugs to treat depression is still in the research phase, the results are promising and may offer a new alternative for patients who have become or are resistant to conventional treatments. However, their use should be strictly framed by health professionals and carried out in an appropriate medical environment. Research in this field is therefore very encouraging for the future of psychiatry and the fight against depression.
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