Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impacts about 3.5% of all adults in the United States every year, while nearly 10% will get diagnosed during their lifetime. People across all demographics may develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event and symptoms can vary over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, most people who go through a terrifyingly traumatic event have a temporary difficulty adjusting immediately. Effective treatment can be crucial to effectively coping and improving function. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s extremely important to educate folks on the prevalence of mental health issues and to put an end to any remaining stigma that may prevent people from seeking treatment. Scientists are starting to discover psychedelics’ role in treating PTSD and other mental health conditions, and as Scientific American reported, MDMA combined with therapy appears to improve symptoms:
“A long-awaited study is making worldwide headlines for finding that the outlawed psychoactive drug MDMA is startlingly effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But researchers and study participants say the substance itself, while extremely powerful, catalyzes healing rather than working on its own: MDMA treatment also requires dozens of hours of therapy—before, during and after the drug experience—with professionals whose special training is expensive and intense.
“Researchers hope the new study, published this week in Nature Medicine, will help this treatment gain regulators’ approval for clinical use within a couple of years. Many therapists and patients are thrilled: About two thirds of PTSD sufferers do not respond to other treatments. And MDMA had shown tremendous promise in earlier, smaller studies.”
“PTSD is a difficult nut to crack—one main reason being that traumas become stuck,” explains Jennifer Mitchell, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, and lead author of the study. “But with MDMA, things that had really crystallized become more flexible, and this gives you the chance to shake the tree and let all the nuts fall out.”
Just as countless lives have benefitted from the medicinal use of cannabis, it appears that psychedelics may be on a similar path towards more scientific discoveries that can unlock mental health benefits. Drug policy reforms and research are going hand-in-hand to educate the public, reduce stigma, and open up new avenues for important studies. The passage of Measure 109 and 110 in Oregon have set the stage for potential legislation in California, and other states will utilize the latest evidence to make informed decisions around important drug policy decisions. As more research is conducted, the medicinal use of psychedelics will become more mainstream across our nation and the globe.