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The ultimate guide to psychedelic therapy, and all you need to know about it

Published on:1 June 2021, 10:39am IST
Psychedelic therapy is a relatively new concept in the mainstream mental health industry, but it has been in use in various cultures and traditions for generations. This technique has proved effective in tackling issues like depression, anxiety, and many other disorders.
Geetika Sachdev
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psychedelic therapy
Psychedelic substances can prove to be helpful in many ways. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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In the last few years, therapy has slowly and steadily gained acceptance as a tool to deal with emotional distress and other mental health struggles. There are various kinds of techniques adopted by mental health practitioners that prove to be useful; one of them is psychedelic therapy. As the name suggests, this technique involves the use of psychedelic substances to aid the therapeutic process. These substances have been an integral part of holistic medicine, and are slowly making their way into mainstream industry. 

Although some of the substances used in this type of therapy are still illegal, trials have been on to prove their safety to treat various conditions. A case in point is psilocybin, which is not only considered safe but also has positive effects on the well-being of a person. 

Some of the common substances used include psilocybin, DMT, peyote, ibogaine and ketamine, among others. What’s important to remember is that in psychedelic therapy, the use of substances is combined with other techniques. 

What is it used for?

Between the 1950s and 1970s, these psychedelic substances were tested by scientists, and it was found that they help in treating addiction, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Ketamine is one of the most popular psychedelic substances used to tackle mental health. It has been shown to be helpful in the case of depression. On the other hand, psilocybin has also helped people with anxiety and depression, and has shown positive results in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction. 

Benefits of Psychedelic Therapy

The psychedelics can have positive benefits on a person’s mind by impacting the neural circuits that use serotonin. Here are some benefits: 

  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Introspection
  • Improved sense of well-being 
  • Increased social connections 
psychedelic therapy
Your mental health needs your attention too. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It has been researched that most people who take psychedelic substances experience feelings of peace, joy and unity, but only under the guidance of a mental health practitioner. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the effects caused by psychedelics have lasting benefits. That’s because most people continued to experience a better sense of well-being and social connectedness, even after the effects of the substance had worn off. 

All in all, psychedelic therapy has been helpful in many ways. Although more research is still needed, there are certain substances that have proved to be particularly helpful. Psilocybin-assisted therapy is associated with increased quality of life, more optimism, and reduced anxiety over mortality.

There’s another 2015 study that found that psilocybin-assisted therapy helped in decreasing drinking, and reduced alcohol cravings. 

Some trials have also gone on to show the impact of these substances in the treatment of PTSD. 

Are there any side-effects?

Some people have shown these side-effects, including:
Seeing, hearing, or sensing things that one would otherwise not experience;
– Paranoia;
Distortions of reality;
– Distorted perceptual experiences;
– Altered sense of time

What’s essential to remember is that these substances must only be taken under the guidance of a mental health practitioner, else things could go wrong.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.