A possible game-changer in the provision of mental health care is the use of psychedelic therapy and TMS treatment. This article will focus largely on psychedelic therapy as TMS has been covered in previous blog posts.
Treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, treatment for anxiety, psychiatric disorders and other mental health conditions are being studied in clinical trials to determine how psychedelic substances like psilocybin for treatment (found in magic mushrooms) and MDMA can be used therapeutically.
In carefully supervised sessions, patients use psychedelic substances in a regulated setting as part of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Deep shifts in awareness and insights that may be difficult for typical psychotherapy procedures to produce, can result from the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.
Dr. Shanek Wick and the team here at Neuralia TMS are following the continuous research and information that is being explored by organisations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), US.
Psychedelics-assisted therapy is showing promise in relieving symptoms and antidepressant effects for people who have not reacted well to conventional treatments, from treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to treatment-resistant depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Research has demonstrated that psychedelic therapy can result in long-lasting reductions in sadness and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer, treatment-resistant PTSD and major depression. Additionally, it has been discovered to be effective in treating tobacco, substance and alcohol use disorders.
How are psychedelic experiences thought to work?
If we take MDMA as an example, it is thought that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has 2 major actions. It inhibits the amygdala (where memories of emotions/events are stored) and primes the prefrontal cortex for neuroplasticity).
What is the common factor between TMS and Psychedelic Drugs?
- So let’s say you had a depressive disorder, and you were placed through a PET scan. A PET scan is able to show the uptake of blood glucose (which is the fuel that brain nerves use), oxygen use and overall metabolism. As such, the scan of depressed brains will typically exhibit “decreased lighting up.” In other words there is decreased activity in this particular part of the brain, the “prefrontal cortex” which is just behind your forehead on the left and right sides.
- What TMS does is target these locations and either inhibit or activate those nerves. This is seen in the first mapping session when your hand muscles contract involuntarily when we are trying to calibrate the machine to match your personal requirements.
- In the case of depression, we logically want to activate these nerves in this region of decreased activity.
- Now, when we activate those nerves tens of thousands of times, we can create neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity then is the keyword to remember.
What is neuroplasticity and why is it important?
- The term is derived from Ancient Greek
- Neuro = means nerve in Ancient Greek
- Plastic = means to mould, also in Ancient Greek (like one can do with melted plastic)
- Thus, Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of your brain and its nerves to change, adapt and grow more connections.
- This is the same process that allows a toddler to learn many words a week. Unfortunately, one’s ability for neuroplasticity is largely downhill from the age onwards.
- TMS and Psychedelics (when combined with psychotherapy) can create neuroplasticity but on a very localised level.
- So, through Neuroplasticity, we can increase the connections between in the prefrontal cortex and effectively improve efficiency of transmission.
The significant benefits of psychedelics often don’t manifest during the days of drug administration. Instead, they unfold over the subsequent week, during the course of therapy. Psychedelic drugs have the ability to inhibit the amygdala and stimulate the prefrontal cortex. When the amygdala is inhibited, the defense mechanisms and the distressing memories or emotions linked with past trauma can be temporarily suppressed. This provides a skilled therapist with the opportunity to address these suppressed emotions or memories.
Simultaneously, the activation of the prefrontal cortex hastens this process and facilitates the internalisation of personal psychological revelations. This dual action of psychedelics such as psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy could explain the frequently echoed sentiment that the use of these substances equates to experiencing several years of therapy in just a few sessions.
During these clinical trials, patients frequently describe having mystical-like encounters or a strong sense of oneness, which may aid in long-term healing and personal development. These psychedelic experiences might aid people in developing fresh perspectives, overcoming old cognitive habits, decreases in depression and understanding themselves better. The possibility for remarkable and life-changing experiences is one of the major benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
It is crucial to remember that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has hazards, but these can be minimised with common sense clinical strategies.
Although they can happen, unfavourable outcomes are often uncommon and effectively managed in the carefully regulated clinical settings.
Thorough study and diligent patient monitoring is required, along with an understanding of the therapeutic potential and guarantee of the safety of these medications.
Although psychedelic drugs have only recently been used in therapy, their potential advantages cannot be overlooked. Psychedelics-assisted therapy may eventually play a significant role in the treatment of mental health conditions such as treatment-resistant depression as more clinical trials and studies explore its efficacy and safety. These compounds may provide those who have been afflicted by crippling illnesses hope by increasing the range of available treatments and offering relief where conventional approaches have failed.
In conclusion, psychedelic therapy has the potential to completely change the way that mental health services are provided. Disorders like treatment-resistant depression in patients and post-traumatic stress disorder have demonstrated encouraging results in clinical trials and research so far. Although safety measures and close observation are required, the life-changing experiences and therapeutic effects that patients have described point to psychedelics’ promise as a kind of treatment. It is crucial that current research and regulation concentrate on leveraging the advantages while ensuring patient safety as this type of psychedelic treatment develops.