What Is Psychedelic Assisted Therapy?

Between 10 and 30 percent of people with major depressive disorder do not respond or have a limited response to traditional mental health treatments like antidepressants and therapy. They are said to have treatment-resistant depression, which means they have tried at least two other treatments for depression but did not achieve long-term success.

Psychiatrists are discovering new ways to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders using more antidepressants. Vagus nerve stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychedelics assisted therapy are a few examples.

Psychedelic assisted therapy was used in the 1940s and 1950s, but as psychedelics became more of a recreational drug used illegally, the drug was banned in the 1960s. It is now making a comeback but under many different circumstances.

What Are Psychedelics?

Psychedelics are mind-altering drugs that have been known to open the mind, altering perception, mood, and the way you think. Numerous studies found substantial benefits of all types of psychedelics, including chemically-based or plant-based. Five of the most common are listed below.

  • Psilocybin, also called mushrooms, magic mushrooms, or shrooms
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or acid
  • Ayahuasca
  • MDMA, Molly, or ecstasy
  • Ketamine

Each of these psychedelics has provided unique benefits to improve mental health.

Psychedelics and the Brain

The brain is shaped and trained throughout your life by genetics, living environment, biological factors, and positive and negative experiences. The brain has defense mechanisms for traumatic events, like suppressing memories, to protect us. However, when the brain shuts down some parts, it prevents you from overcoming and moving forward from painful pasts and self-destructive behaviors.

Psychedelics open those parts of the brain, and when administered under psychiatric supervision and combined with psychotherapy, you can quickly change neural activity in the brain. This can lead to improved mood, no longer feeling numb, and promote healing.

Get To Know Your Psychedelic

All psychedelics have been banned by the government due to the heavy abuse as a recreational drug and its potential for developing a substance use disorder. Researchers are studying the best ways to reintroduce the medications for therapeutic use only.

Psilocybin has positive effects in treating addiction, anxiety, and depression by activating a release of serotonin in the brain. It is a mushroom that has been used for 10,000 years for medicinal and religious purposes.

LSD has potential use in treating anxiety and addiction. It, too, activates serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. LSD is a synthetic chemical found in ergot, a fungus that infects rye grains.

Ayahuasca is a tea made from the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis and stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. It leads to an altered level of consciousness by affecting the central nervous system.

MDMA is both a stimulant and hallucinogenic drug. Mostly used at rave parties, it opens the mind and enhances all your senses. Street versions of MDMA often contain other illicit drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. In therapy, it is being studied for its benefits in treating those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ketamine has already been approved for use in therapeutic settings in which it is administered in micro-doses by a licensed psychiatrist. Ketamine is an anesthetic that doesn’t slow breathing or heart rate. It lifts your mood and can produce euphoria. It opens your mind and working with a therapist who practices cognitive-behavioral treatments; your brain has the potential for positive rewiring.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

The Federal Drug Administration has only approved Ketamine, to date, to aid those with treatment-resistant depression. It is used in conjunction with psychotherapy. In studies, the brain quickly responds to Ketamine to boost mood, unlike antidepressants that can take weeks or months to cause a reaction.

Additional positive effects of ketamine-assisted therapy include relaxation, a sense of well-being, spiritual connection, reduced or eliminated anxiety, and emotional regulation. You become open-minded, accessing suppressed memories and traumas. While your mind is open and vulnerable to suggestions, your psychotherapist can help you replace those negative experiences you’ve been holding on to with positive ones.

Ketamine-assisted therapy is especially beneficial for those struggling with negative thoughts of harming themselves or someone else. This is a breakthrough much needed for many who have tried antidepressants that have been known to cause suicidal ideations.

You may be thinking this sounds a lot like hypnosis or deep meditation. It is not. Let us explain further.

Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy

Before you ever receive a psychedelic treatment, your psychiatrist will extensively examine your physical and mental health, as well as that of your family. Once cleared for treatment, your doctor will administer Ketamine in one of three ways, based on your preference: nasal spray, infusion given by IV over a period of 40 minutes, or injection into your shoulder muscle.

A psychotherapy session with psychedelics aims to change your perspective on life from negative to positive. By using cognitive-behavioral therapy, the changes you experience are extended.

Many people attend therapy sessions for months and sometimes years. It takes a long time to reach a level of openness with the therapist in which you can change thought patterns. Ketamine is a tool that speeds up this process, allowing you to see improvements within a few weeks.

Sessions last less than an hour, but it can take two to three hours for the physical effects of the Ketamine to wear off. Fortunately, the mood-boosting effects can last for weeks or months.

The typical program length for psychedelic-assisted therapy, whether you are working with a therapist or not, is six treatments within a two or three-week period.

Want to Try Psychedelic Assisted Therapy?

If you have tried antidepressants, therapies, or other treatments to feel less depressed or anxious, you may be a great candidate for psychedelic assisted therapy. Your first step is to find a mental health center with licensed psychiatrists and therapists. Not only should they be licensed by the state, but they should also have specific training in psychedelic assisted therapy.

Reach out today to learn more about how you can benefit from a medically supervised psychedelic program.