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Magic Mushrooms, LSD & other psychedelics might protect against depression & suicide

By Phungushead, Jan 16, 2015 | | |
  1. Phungushead
    People who use psychedelic drugs report less depression and fewer suicidal thoughts than those who never dropped acid or took mushrooms, according to research published yesterday in the "Journal of Psychopharmacology."

    Lead author Peter Hendricks is a professor of clinical psychology at UAB. He and the other researchers culled the data from almost 200,000 responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. People who said they used psychedelic drugs at least once in their life reported better mental health and fewer suicide attempts. The results set psychedelics apart from other drugs. Lifetime users of substances such as cocaine, marijuana and heroin reported poorer mental health and a higher frequency of suicidal thoughts.

    After controlling for other variables, the research showed a strong correlation between use of psychedelics and better mental health. The latest research follows similar studies that have shown that psychedelics can help some patients recover from substance addiction and help dying patients decrease levels of anxiety. Taken together, the studies suggest that psychedelics could be a useful tool for treating some mental illness, Hendricks said.

    "No one study is going to answer every question," Hendricks said. "But we need to be able to go where the studies lead us. Right now that suggests that these substances can be protective for mental health."

    It is difficult to study the effect of psychedelic drugs on patients because they are heavily regulated by the federal government. Psilocybin, LSD, mescaline and other hallucinogens are classified as Schedule 1 drugs with no approved medical use and a high potential for abuse.

    Hendricks said he and his colleagues are not suggesting that psychedelics be legalized, but he said he would like to see the legal classification changed to Schedule 3 or 4, which would make it easier to study the substances in the lab.

    Hendricks said he thinks the improvement in mental health could come from the spiritual nature of the psychedelic experience.

    "The mechanisms we are talking about are mystical experiences that can be transformative," Hendricks said. "It can be an epiphany, like Ebenezer Scrooge. Your personality, your values and your mood can change in a very short amount of time."

    People who have deeply spiritual experiences on psychedelics may find more meaning in life, which could explain the improvements in mental health associated with the drugs, Hendricks said.

    Further research would be needed to see if psychedelics really can alleviate symptoms for those suffering from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

    "It might be that those who use psychedelics are inherently curious or spiritual, and that's why they have better mental health," Hendricks said. "We can't control for that."

    Hendricks became interested in psychedelics as mental health treatment initially through his work on addiction. But then he became intrigued by studies that seemed to show potential for treating mood disorders.

    "Despite advances in mental health treatment, suicide rates have not declined," Hendricks said. "We have a problem with suicide and we don't seem to be getting better at preventing self-harm. It's exciting to think that this could be one of the interventions that could make a difference."

    Hendricks said psychedelics could have some benefits for those who are mentally healthy, but he said he doesn't support legalization or recreational use. Some people with a family history of psychosis should not use psychedelics, and neither should children or teens, Hendricks said.

    He also said the drugs need to be administered in a controlled environment with medical supervision. Psychedelics could prove to be a one-time treatment with the possibility to change the lives of those suffering from mental illness, Hendricks said.

    "We're not talking about needing to deliver a certain type of chemical that is absent in the brain," Hendricks said. "It's possible this could provide the fuel to be a more complete person. Unlike current models of taking medication, you are talking about taking a medication one time, and that's that."

    15 January 2015

    Amy Yurkanin
    Alabama Media Group
    Image: These are some of the mushrooms collected by San Francisco State University professor Dennis Desjardin and his students in the northern Sierras near Bassets, Calif. on June 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Max Whittaker) (MAX WHITTAKER)


  1. Phungushead
    Could Psychedelics Be An Effective Suicide Prevention Measure?

    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=42663&stc=1&d=1422156365[/IMGL] The new wave of research on the medical applications of psychedelic drugs has suggested that these substances may hold considerable promise as therapeutic interventions for a number of mental health conditions. And according to another new study, use of "classic" psychedelics -- psilocybin (magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline -- may also be an effective suicide prevention measure.

    University of Alabama at Birminghamon researchers studied data on 190,000 American adults, collected between 2008 and 2012 as part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The data showed that lifetime psychedelic use was associated with a 19 percent reduction in past-month psychological distress, a 14 percent reduced likelihood of past-year suicidal thinking, a 29 percent reduced likelihood of past-year suicidal planning. Those who had used psychedelics had a 36 percent reduced likelihood of attempting suicide in the past year. Lifetime use of non-psychedelic illicit drugs, on the other hand, was linked with an increased likelihood of these outcomes.

    While the study doesn't offer an answer as to why the use of psychedelics was correlated with reduced psychological distress and suicidality, it does suggest that more research could be helpful in determining whether psychedelics hold promise for suicide prevention.

    "Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored," said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. "This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits)."

    A growing body of research has shown that psychedelics may have promise as therapeutic interventions for a range of psychological conditions, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    It's important to note, however, that this research has been largely conducted in controlled, clinical environments -- recreational psychedelic use is not recommended for the treatment of mental health conditions. Still, these and other findings suggest that under the right conditions, psychedelics may be a promising non-pharmaceutical intervention.

    "Growing evidence including the present research suggests that classic psychedelics may have the potential to alleviate human suffering associated with mental illness," the researchers concluded. "Further rigorous research is warranted to better understand these substances, with the ultimate goal of taking full advantage of their latent therapeutic capacity."

    22 January 2015

    Carolyn Gregoire
    Huffington Post

    Abstract of the study below. Full study attached, will add to file archive.
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