Psychedelic Therapy for Depression and Anxiety
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders in the world, with 5% of people worldwide and nearly 20% of adults in the US experiencing depression and anxiety, respectively.
Here are some facts about depression and anxiety:
- 30% of US adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in life
- Women are more likely to experience anxiety than men
- Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide
- Depression is a major risk factor for suicide
- Despite many treatment options being available, many that experience depression do not seek treatment
Depression is characterized by lethargy, anhedonia (lack of pleasure), decreased motivation, difficulty making decisions, and little hope for things getting better. Individuals often experience low-self esteem, and in more severe cases of depression, can entertain thoughts of, attempt, or complete suidice.
Symptoms of depression:
- Helplessness or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in once pleasurable activities
- Disrupted sleep patterns and low energy
- Seeing death as an escape: increased suicidal ideation
Anxiety is experienced as heightened energy within the body, with psychomotor agitation, increased heart rate, preoccupation with something going wrong or being out of control. It can take many forms, such as:
- Agoraphobia (fear of leaving home/fear of public places)
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
Both of these conditions are exacerbated by excessive rumination and an inability to see from a different perspective, which can lead to vicious cycles. A person with low self-esteem becomes depressed and experiences decreased performance at work and intimacy with their friends and partners, driving them further into depression. Anxiety generally encourages those that experience it to avoid situations that provoke anxiety, which becomes a self-affirming behavior.
Psychedelic-assisted therapy is incredibly helpful at breaking these vicious cycles, offering a glimpse of hope to the individual, and the ability and motivation to make positive life changes while finding rich sources of meaning.
How Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Can Help
Depression and anxiety are one of the more well-studied diagnoses in psychedelic research, with ketamine producing immediate and powerful antidepressant effects. When this is coupled with professional therapy, antidepressant effects can be longer lasting.
In a meta-analysis for psychedelic psychotherapy, the authors had this to say about how psychedelics help patients improve:
“[Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies] increased acceptance and processing of emotions, connectedness to others, forgiveness, self-compassion, insights into the self, peak or mystical experiences, ego dissolution, positive changes in worldview, motivation and commitment to change, changes in the relationship to the substance of abuse for those with substance use disorder, and acceptance of death for those with terminal illness.”
In short, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy can be a powerful medium in which to transform one’s concept and relationship to self, have greater compassion, as well as reveal a depth of meaning that encourages them to move forward.
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