A Brave New World: How Psychedelics are Shaping the Future of Mental Health Treatment
Exciting things are happening in the field of mental healthcare. The medical community is abuzz about its research into the potential of psychedelics to change the human condition. It is gaining traction, with exciting results discovered regularly.
Psychedelics could dramatically reshape the lives of those suffering from treatment-resistant depression, paralyzing anxiety levels, or struggling to live with PTSD. With the recent suicide and substance abuse rates, healing trauma with psychedelics can be a game-changer.
What are psychedelics?
Psychedelics are drugs that alter the user's visual, auditory, perception, and mental states. Psychedelics work by changing the neurotransmitter serotonin levels that regulate moods and emotions. A low level of serotonin is associated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. The use of psychedelics increases serotonin levels which help to alleviate the associated symptoms.
There are many different types of psychedelic drugs, including LSD (acid), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), Ayahuasca, MDMA (ecstasy), and Ketamine, currently in studies for their benefits in mental health treatment. The FDA has already approved the nasal spray version of Ketamine, sold as Spravato, for treatment-resistant depression, OCD, and PTSD.
A Brief History of Psychedelics
For centuries psychedelics have been used in the ritual and medicinal practices of cultures worldwide. They have also been researched extensively in recent years as a potential treatment for various mental disorders.
The most widely known psychedelic is LSD. It was initially synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938 and then used as a psychiatric treatment in the 1950s. In the 1960s, psychedelics became popularized by rock bands like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. However, because of the War on Drugs, they were quickly outlawed.
However, this field has renewed interest because of its recent findings on the therapeutic effects of treating mental illness using psychedelics. It's a promising path towards true, complete healing.
What does a psychedelic drug feel like?
Psychedelic drugs open your mind up to deep introspection. It's as if you're plucked from the treadmill of your daily life and set upon a cloud to watch the show. The ability to separate yourself from your ego is the hallmark of a trip. You're able to understand yourself on a cellular level without judgment. Feelings of unity and completeness replace the psychological isolation of mental illness. The joy that you experience is overwhelming in the best of ways.
Psychedelics affect the parts of your brain involving your senses, so you will see colors and patterns swirling. Your everyday surroundings can take on a warped aspect to them. You sometimes feel a buzz throughout your body that is thrilling. You may find that people look different when you're on a trip. People often look either more beautiful or uglier than usual. Your vision becomes much clearer, and you can see tiny details of everyday things that will fascinate you.
A trip's length can vary, depending on which psychedelic you are using. They typically last between 2-8 hours. Afterward, you'll be ready for a long nap, feel thirsty, and emotionally spent—all completely normal after a brain-bending adventure.
Learn About Psychedelic Integration
A growing number of qualified health professionals have begun offering psychedelic integration to their patients. The patient undertakes a prescribed dose of a psychedelic in a clinical setting with a professional watching over them to guide them through what can initially feel frightening. Humans aren't used to feeling the full spectrum of emotions. Our psyches filter out the bad stuff so we can keep living our lives.
But the darkness is still there, causing chaos and pain in the form of mental illness. Psychedelics allow you to confront your shadow self from a safe distance while enveloped in a cloud of love and affirmation.
Not enough anecdotal evidence has been shared about people's psychedelic experiences. We often hear of the results, but the details are left out.
Allow me to share some highlights of past sessions I've had:
…after worrying if it would work for about 30 minutes, I started to get the sensation of my entire body vibrating. The tingles made me look down at my hands, and I could see each skin cell making up my hand in larger-than-life precision. They pulsated ever so slightly. They were breathing!
…a ringing sound slowly seemed to encompass me until I was suddenly aware of the brilliant swirl of colors and patterns that danced right before my eyes. I wasn't sure if my eyes were open or closed. I felt a wave of love. Not for anyone or anything. It was just there. It was me. I was LOVE.
…I felt the harmony of the Universe, as if we are all notes in a musical composition, playing towards the heavens. And in this harmony, I felt certain that I belonged. That my note was crucial and added to the beauty of The Song. I had never heard The Song before, but I knew it at the time as if I'd been singing it all along.
…I felt in my heart that I mattered. That love was both my gift and my purpose. I understood that I'd have to be hurt sometimes for me to share my gift, but that was ok. It wasn't personal. Some people will never choose happiness. It doesn't reflect on me.
…in the mirror, I gazed at my reflection. I could see that the beautiful woman staring back at me needed me to say something. The words came rushing out. I told her how much I admired her for all she'd endured. I soothed her weariness by reminding her of how strong we were now. I reminded her that we were grown up and safe now. I thanked her for protecting me. And as I said these loving words to my reflection, I felt the peace of expressing that. What surprised me was that I felt the impact of both giving and receiving simultaneously. I cannot convey how profoundly healing it was. The circle of love and affirmation and the giving and receiving of self-acceptance created lasting change in my psyche.
You'll have a lot of emotional progress to sort through and many revelations about yourself to start to understand, and that's wonderful for your progress. But it's also why psychedelic integration in a clinical setting is so important. You'll be with experienced professionals who have developed a program dedicated to enhancing your recovery and wellness.
The possibilities are endless because all limitations go away when you embark on a psychedelic journey. It's important not to let the cathartic trip you will have slip into the rearview mirror. Discussing your self-discovery with a trained professional maximizes the healing benefits of psychedelics.
How can your psychedelic trip help you heal?
As you can see from just a few anecdotes, psychedelics open your mind up to allow for deeper thinking and feeling. It separates your ego from your memory and will enable you to detach the two. But it's more than hyperbole. AI computers have mapped the impact of psychedelics on the human brain during a trip and found that the chemicals create new neural pathways in the brain area responsible for mood and emotional regulations.
It bears repeating– Psychedelics create new neural pathways in the part of your brain that is responsible for mood and emotional regulation. When you apply new coping methods and learn to deal with your mental health challenges, you are programming your brain in a new, healthy way.
At that pivotal moment, having the assistance of trained professionals or a specially designed therapy program to help you process your experience can replace years of slowly trudging along, resolving your issues one at a time. That's because psychedelics allow you to have a holistic healing experience that goes straight to the underlying wounds and isolation that many people suffering from mental illness struggle with every day.
A Psychedelically Sane Future
The true promise of psychedelics is that they are one of the most powerful tools available to help people process trauma. Trauma is the barrier to healing for the majority of people suffering from mental illness. Years of therapy and thousands of milligrams of psychotropic drugs cannot equal the deep level of healing and self-acceptance that is experienced with psychedelics. Our society has a long way to go before investing in this promising path. But the potential for meaningful healing is enormous.
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