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Medicine Anxiety

mr peabody

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Welcome! Following is a DIGEST of articles and reports that is constantly updated. Jump in!




Can psychedelic drugs treat anxiety?

More and more doctors think so. Here's what you need to know.

Octavian Mihai, a student at NYU, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Although a CT scan showed that the disease had spread throughout his body, Mihai's oncologist was confident the cancer would respond to chemotherapy, after eight months of treatment, the cancer cells in Mihai's blood had been eliminated.

Mihai should have been thrilled. Instead, he was gripped by a suffocating anxiety.

"Intellectually, I understood that the five-year survival rate for stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma patients is about 80 percent," recalls Mihai, who studied medicine at NYU. "But that also meant that 20 percent of those people died. And the idea that there was always going to be this thing hanging over me, something threatening my existence?it was chewing at me."

Long a casual imbiber, Mihai doubled down on his drinking in an effort to drown out the anxiety. It worked, to a point. But in the mornings, along with the hangovers, the anxiety flooded back even stronger.

"Eventually I decided I couldn't take it anymore," he remembers. His doctor at NYU suggested Xanax, but Mihai declined, suspecting that a benzodiazepine would just temporarily numb him up, like booze. "Well, there is another possibility," the doctor suggested, "if you're up for it."

The doctor's colleague at NYU Langone Medical Center was preparing a trial of psilocybin to treat the anxiety and depression that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. There was still room on the roster. Mihai had never done anything stronger than marijuana, but he was desperate.

A few weeks later, Mihai stood in a softly lit room at Langone with two psychotherapists who would guide him through his first psychedelic trip. A metal chalice was produced, a capsule inside. Mihai swallowed. For half an hour, he felt nothing. He excused himself to the bathroom.

He was standing at the mirror when something strange and wonderful happened. "I saw another universe on the other side," Mihai recalls. "The walls were crooked; absolutely nothing was straight anymore. I wanted to jump through the glass, slide into that other world."

He walked back into the main room and lay down on the couch. There, in the company of the psychotherapists, and with a blindfold over his eyes and noise-canceling headphones on his ears, Mihai began to trip. Really trip. Like, an I'm-in-the-movie-Inception-level trip.

Bright colors, infinite darkness. The ability to traverse time and space. The type of trip where reality seems to cave in on itself, where you're convinced you're finally seeing the world as it actually is: ineffable, generous, harmonic. As a track of tribal, bass-heavy music pulsed through his headphones, Mihai felt, for the first time in memory, perfectly at peace.

"I'd describe it as having my mind permanently opened," Mihai says. "And the anxiety was gone."

What Mihai experienced was not novel. Researchers have experimented with the potentially palliative effects of psychedelics since at least the 1940s, when the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann began experimenting with LSD which he'd synthesized a few years earlier. In the '50s and '60s, thousands of patients participated in studies; many saw a decrease in their anxiety and showed improvements in mood after one trip, like Mihai.

Psychedelics are again finding favor among scientists. NYU Langone isn't alone: Teams at institutions as varied as Imperial College London, the University of Alabama, and Johns Hopkins are currently studying them.

Last year, a Brazilian review claimed that ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew that originated with Amazonian tribes, may help curb depression. And the FDA allowed MAPS to proceed with tests on the ability of MDMA (or ecstasy) to counteract symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

"Look at all the states that have legalized medical marijuana," says Philip Wolfson, M.D., a California psychiatrist and early proponent of psilocybin and MDMA therapy. "There's this growing sense that mind alteration can be a good thing... helpful, beneficial, even pleasurable. And that prohibition full stop isn't a healthy thing."

Adding to the momentum is the rising popularity of "microdosing" of LSD, which advocates suggest can boost creativity and mood.

A study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that LSD amps up electrical activity and bloodflow in the visual cortex, the brain region that interprets what you see. Other research suggests that LSD lets otherwise separate areas of the mind communicate.

Still, scientists haven't figured out what's happening on a molecular level, says Dr. Greer. "We don't know how many of these healing experiences are biological in nature, or how many are a product of experiential healing, or a substance giving a person fresh perspective on his life," says Dr. Greer. "There's a lot more work to be done."

In some cases, psychedelics can exacerbate anxiety symptoms researchers want to treat. In the Langone study, most patients reported decreases in depressed mood and anxiety, but a few experienced a temporary increase in anxiety. Luckily, they were tripping in the company of psychotherapists who could monitor their mental state.

As for Mihai, now 25, he lives in Las Vegas and works as a physician assistant. His cancer is still in remission. His anxiety is firmly under control, and he drinks much less than he used to, progress he attributes in large part to his participation in the Langone study.

"Looking back, I'd describe the experience as having my subconscious thrown wide open," he says. "It was as if I'd finished months and months of therapy, working toward the goal of overcoming these mental blocks, and I got all that in one session."

For months after the trip, Mihai felt aftereffects, occasionally heightened colors and sounds, a shimmer on the face of reality. It faded eventually.

"But when I'm feeling stressed, I can still go back to that day," he says. He recalls what he saw, and the wisdom he attained.

"You've got to have a careful attitude toward it, and use it the right way, in the right setting. You need to respect it. That's when you start to learn."

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a1...-psychadelics/
 
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mr peabody

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New serotonin study suggests psychedelics may effectively treat anxiety

A lot of us associate the word serotonin, a neurotransmitter that allows brain cells to communicate back and forth with sleep and with stress. And while it is partly responsible for how much sleep we got last night and how stressed we are at work today, there's still much to learn about the chemical nerve. Researchers from Imperial College in London think they're onto something as they argue that a two-pronged model of how serotonin acts be incorporated into its present understanding. They believe this updated model will transform the way we treat mental illnesses, such as depression, addiction, and anxiety.

Serotonin acts on a variety of receptors, two of which are especially important: serotonin 1A and 2A. And drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics interact with these receptors to ultimately help people cope better with mental health conditions. Those suffering with depression are often prescribed SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. These drugs help relieve symptoms by boosting levels of serotonin in the brain and specifically increasing activity at the serotonin 1A receptor. This reduces brain activity in stress circuitry, which in turn help people to better handle their disorder.

While activating this 1A receptor proves important and effective, these researchers say that activating the 2A pathway responsible for creating the effect of psychedelics may be therapeutically important as well. And in their paper, they argue the possibility of effectively treating certain mental illnesses with psychedelics. Activating serotonin 2A receptors may be a good thing, as it makes individuals very sensitive to context and to their environment, said Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, lead author of the research paper and Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial. Crucially, if that is made therapeutic, then the combination can be very effective. This is how psychedelics work - they make people sensitive to context and open to change via activating the 2A receptor.

Serotonin has proven to make situations less stressful, via activation of the 1A pathway. However, this might not always be enough, as is the basis of the researchers argument. They believe that in certain cases, activating the 2A pathway is also necessary, as it helps patients alter negative behaviors and thought patterns. Furthermore, it just might put up a fight against certain brain wiring that has become resistant to change when conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction are present.

According to the authors of the study, the introduction of the two-pronged model could lead to a notable shift in psychiatric care. It has the potential to offer patients who endure their mental illnesses with pharmaceuticals a secondary treatment option, which is to actively address it instead by fundamentally modifying behaviors and thinking. Furthermore, Dr. Carhart-Harris believes that this new model sheds light on the important role that environment plays in drug administration, asserting that drugs, at least psychedelics and possibly SSRI, should not be administered in isolation. We need to pay more attention to the context in which medications are given. We have to acknowledge the evidence which shows that environment is a critical component of how our biology is expressed, he said.

This research paper Serotonin and brain function: a tale of two receptors by Robin Carhart-Harris and David Nutt is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

http://thriveworks.com/blog/serotoni...ental-illness/
 
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mr peabody

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There's a huge difference between everyday 'worry', and actual anxiety. Yes, anxiety is "all in the mind", but that's kind of disingenuous because so is literally all of reality itself. Perception literally IS reality, and to say that something is "all in your head" as a way to try to decrease the effects of the thing is a massive misunderstanding of the power and the role of perception in life. Anxiety is a serious problem for people who experience it, and it is not something you can just decide your way out of, and that's basically a different way to say "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," and that's something only people who haven't experienced or don't actually understand these things will ever say. If you can just choose not to feel it, then it's simple worry, not the kind of problematic and truly crippling anxiety people are almost always referring to in this context. It's an actual chemical imbalance, not an internal misunderstanding of when to "talk or not talk."

Psychedelics are a great tool, but they're not medicine in the way that western culture thinks of "medicine." Taking a psychedelic won't cure your anxiety automatically, but the psychedelic experience may lead you to understandings that you may not have otherwise found, understandings that might allow you to work through the underlying cause of your anxiety or understandings that allow you to see reality in a way that no longer makes you as anxious.

It's important to understand that all anxiety is a manifestation of an internal fear that has been embedded in your subconscious because of a traumatic event, often, though not always, during childhood. Some very common ones are fear of failure, fear of success (which is ultimately a fear of failure,) fear of death or grave physical injury, fear of loss, abandonment, etc. Most other fears stem from these more basic fears. Social anxiety is often a manifestation of social fears like the fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, or another fear that was instilled early on in life, and to overcome the social anxiety you need to figure out the root fear behind it is, and then understand why you're afraid of it, and then to negate it by proving to yourself that you don't need to fear that underlying cause.

Psychedelics can strongly magnify any emotions you're feeling, so in my educated opinion, trying to treat social anxiety by taking a heavy tryptamine psychedelic and diving head-on into a social situation is a recipe for disaster. Begin slowly and progress gradually. You want to experience being outside your comfort zone, but you don't want to drown while learning how to swim, as it were. This is the working concept behind immersion therapy... walking step by step into deeper and deeper water so as to be able to check and see that "Okay, I'm still not drowning, I got this. Moving forward my next step will be..." so as to gradually build a tolerance to the thing you fear, and thereby gaining confidence and actually defeating the fear.

Tryptamines may not be the best for beginning work on this sort of thing. In fact, the best thing to do would be to start off stone sober, and maybe even do all the work sober, using psychedelics only as a tool for contemplating the steps you've taken and the steps you plan on taking later. Phenethylamines like MDMA are more conducive to diving into chaotic social situations, but I definitely wouldn't recommend that sort of step with tryptamines, until you're comfortable (or at least confident in yourself) while in social situations AND sober.

I also disagree with those who imply that using psychedelics to find relief is "lazy," but I think I understand what was meant by that. I do believe there are more effective ways to do this kind if work if you already have a good working understanding of yourself and the issues you face. So long as you don't know damn near every proverbial inch of your own psyche (I don't believe anyone really does) then psychedelics can always be useful for gaining a more accurate working understanding of your 'self' and your fears and beliefs, and what work you need to start doing to improve all of the above when you come down.

Psychology and pharmacology are my two specialties and I have almost 30 years of firsthand experience with literally crippling social phobia -- in fact panic disorder with agoraphobia and social phobia -- and how they're treated and most often overcome. I've spent the past 16 years studying these conditions closely in an effort to overcome them myself, and I've stayed up to date with the newest, and the most effective, treatments, for these sorts of things.

-CNSninja (BL)

• • •

^^
I'd like to personally thank you for your post. You've explained in great detail how psychedelics can be used to get to the root of the issue at hand. They have the potential to grant to us a greater capability to understand 'why' we are the way we are. I've long wondered why I'm so anxious when I'm around people. I think it stems from a traumatic event in the past. A fear of not knowing what I am expected to say, or how I am expected to behave. A fear of rejection.

When I am deeply moved by a psychedelic experience, I find the social anxiety becomes so very irrelevant - but I cannot jump into a social situation in that state of being. Mainly because when I look back on how I acted (or what I posted on some internet forum) it all seems so.... overly loving? Overly emotional?

It's like I'm trying to push out all these emotions that I hide inside all in one go. It certainly isn't my usual demeanor which is reserved and quiet. But when I am in the tryptamine 'zone' that reservation, that quiet shell I keep around me is completely obliterated. Almost too much, in fact. But I can't decide if that side of me is truly who I am, or if it's something imparted by the psychedelic, temporarily. I lean towards it being truth, but a truth that I can't face when I'm not tripping.

I look back at my words and actions, and they seem 'silly' and 'not like me' - so I feel shameful. But when I was saying or writing them, they were the most truthful and clear representation of my feelings towards another. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that psychedelics can give me an ability to shed free from my anxious fear of 'what will people think' -- but later on I revert back, I delete what I wrote, I go back into hiding after the trip is over.

-1and1areOne (BL)

http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/770726-social-anxiety-and-tripping
 
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mr peabody

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The nuclear option: a personal story of treating social anxiety with 5-MeO-DMT


Jacob was finally fed up with his debilitating social anxiety. As a successful businessman with a wife and kids, he had achieved what most people would call success, but for some reason his anxiety levels and social awkwardness seemed to be getting worse by the year. Having exhausted conventional treatment routes, Jacob started investigating alternative approaches, including the use of psychedelics.

Jacob had never tried psychedelics. He considered himself a logical rationalist, so when his search for social anxiety treatment lead him to a psychospiritual retreat center in Mexico, referred to him by Psychedelic Times, he felt completely out of his element. But Jacob was willing to try anything, so he dove in.

Psychedelic Times had the chance to speak with Jacob (not his real name) about his journey to Medicine Heart in Rosarito, Mexico, and the uncanny healing he experienced there.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Jacob. What brought you to seek out psychedelics in the first place?

Social anxiety was the driver for me seeking this out. In the business that I run, I wear lots of hats as a president, designer, manufacturer, bookkeeper, and sales manager. Its a lot of stress. I got to the point where I was having anxiety attacks on the way to work just because I had to call somebody. My entire life, I had social anxiety, but it started to become really magnified to the point of being unmanageable. I have a 24 year old daughter and two sons that are 5 and 7 now, and I started to see some of my patterns reemerging in my eldest son, wanting to participate but not being able to participate. My hope was that, by addressing my own issues I could perhaps help him.

How did you come to decide on psychedelic treatment?

I'd never experienced psychedelics before. I had done therapy through the years, and it just didn't go anywhere, and I was hearing more and more things about psychedelics in the mainstream media. I wondered where I could even source someone who was knowledgeable. I was looking for some experienced guidance on this. I looked into ayahuasca and Peruvian centers, but I was worried it might not work for me. I am 55 years old, and thought, This is not the time for the subtle approach; I want to go nuclear. I ended up on Medicine Heart, a place in Mexico that does a lot of iboga addiction detox work but also psychospiritual work with 5-MeO-DMT extracted from the Bufo alvarius toad. I spoke with them and a week later, I had my flight booked to go visit them.

An interesting thing about their program is that the stuff that they are doing goes so far beyond just the chemistry. Before this trip, on a scale of spiritual understanding from 1-100, I would have been a 2. In my initial Skype calls with the facilitators, I told them flat out, This is about chemistry. The rest of this is woo-woo. Coming out of it, the chemistry was crazy and wild and really insightful, but some of the most important things that took place happened without the chemistry.

What happened when you arrived there?

I got off the airplane and was picked up by Greg Carroll, this tatted-up former skateboarder. We were making conversation in the car, and he said to me, Wait a minute, youre here for social anxiety, but here you are getting on an airplane, getting scooped up by me, and riding off into Mexico. We laughed, and I somewhat jokingly said "Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures."

The first day was spent getting acclimated, and we got into whats called family constellation work that involves role playing and visualization. At one point, I was interacting with myself as a child, and I asked, 'What's wrong little Jacob?' And the answer was, 'Were not together anymore.' Tears exploded, and I started bawling. This was all stone cold sober. Later, I faced my father and my grandfather, and we worked some things out. We had a meditation that evening, and that was it for the first day. For me, Joe Rational inside my head was still going on, so, despite my first breakthrough, I was still skeptical.

Tell us about your first psychedelic journeys there.

They sat me down on a big blanket and had me take one big, long, drawn-out hit of 5-MeO-DMT. I fell back, sorry, I'm getting a little emotional. Ill never forget the sound of my soul being sucked out of my body. At first I was laying there and thought I was dead. I thought to myself, "Oh, now you're dead. How can you do that to your wife and kids?" There was a sadness, and then from wherever I was, I sent this beautiful white love down to them. And then there was a moment where I went from being in an altered state to a rational state, and I thought, "Why in the world didn't I include my adult daughter in this? She should be here, too." When the experience finished, I turned around to the facilitators and said, "Well, that was awesome. What's next?"

The next morning, I woke up to a beautiful view of the Pacific and thought to myself how my daughter was just two hours away. I needed to get in her life more, and that was the lesson, simple but powerful. I was self-integrating. Later on, we did some yoga on the beach, and I was reluctant to do the toad medicine again, but we did it. Same process: take my hit, drop back, open my eyes, and one of the facilitators gave me a deep hug that created this full body explosion of beautiful love and light and energy. I was in tears and said "Oh my god, I love myself, and life is beautiful. I've been reborn." We reflected on the journey, which I called the greatest cosmic power nap. I was in the void, just pure awareness, hard to describe, but its a beautiful place.

One night I woke up at 4am and started repeating, My spirit and soul worship at the altar of Isis. I had no idea what it mean't, and I was looking it up on my phone, thinking, Why in the world am I repeating this? As I read about Isis and discussed it with the facilitators, it brought together this thread of my relationships with women, past girlfriends, my wife, and so on. I realized how I create unnecessary barriers with my wife and how much I genuinely thrive on and appreciate positive female interactions and the ways in which I unconsciously sabotage them.

How has your life changed since seeking psychedelic treatment?

It changed my perspective on life. The TV is on much less at my home. I don't stress about my investments. It took me until my last day there to realize that the day I became the president of my company, I had ceased to be an independent human being. I was president of the business 24/7. When I returned, I started to rearrange my life. I set limits for being reachable by my work and set aside more time for myself. I worked out regular date nights with my wife. With two young kids, it is difficult, so now we also have date days where we go on walks, cuddle, and so forth. Soon after I got back, she broke down into tears. She said, "You actually genuinely laughed. It wasn't forced. It's the first time in so long." She told me, "If it takes you going to Mexico periodically to maintain this, then please do."

This experience gave me the tools and capacity to deal with things on a day-to-day basis. Everything got turned on its head for the better. I connected much more intimately with my kids than I had been before. For the first time ever, I grasped spirituality. I grasped the light and warmth in that light. I started a regular meditation practice that I do every morning.

There is so much more. I don't know how to verbalize this exactly, but the beauty of the white light and melting into that, realizing that you are nothing more than a glowing ball of energy within that white light, there is something very peaceful and reassuring about that. I experienced a kind of death two or three times during my journeys at Medicine Heart, and I realized its not a scary, bad place to be, it's just a different place to be. I wish my parents could have both gone there because the end of their lives would have been so much more peaceful if they had seen that.

What I thought of as the nuclear option for me was actually the new clear option for me. Psychedelics give you the capacity to take out the trash. We are normally too busy thinking, calculating, and being pissed off to ever get rid of our baggage. Its been a beautiful reset button for my life. My employees see it, my kids see it, everybody around me sees there is a very different energy coming from me. And my meditation practice allows me to access some of those moments Ive had in Mexico. I can feel the light rushing through my body, and everything becomes prettier.

How is your social anxiety these days?

Ironically, my first visit to the clinic didn't really address my social anxiety directly, as there was a lot more fundamental stuff that I had to work through. I've been back twice now, and now I've learned that it's not so much about suppressing anxiety when it arises, but it's about being totally okay with whatever is happening in the moment. I've been participating in social situations that used to be very hard with much greater ease.

What advice would you give to someone considering taking a journey like you have?

This isn't something I feel like people should be experimenting with on their own. Having that envelope, having that support mechanism, is very important. I believe the energy in the room contributes to an experience. Search out people that are knowledgeable and really have experience with these things. The integration work goes hand in hand with the actual psychedelic journeys. Having a psychedelic experience without anyone knowledgeable to help you unravel it probably wouldn't be productive in a lot of cases. Find competent people to guide you.

https://psychedelictimes.com/5-meo-d...ith-5-meo-dmt/
 
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mr peabody

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Usha and Nick Sand


How I overcame my anxiety with ayahuasca

I would like to share a few highlights of my recent week long ayahuasca retreat. It is in no way a complete account of the experiences but I felt that these particular ones may be of interest to others. It was the most powerful, terrifying, unspeakably beautiful, and ultimately transforming experience of my life without any close comparison.

I am an electrical engineer in my mid 50s who has been in a long and seemingly fruitless search for spiritual fulfillment. Starting from a Catholic background, I went through a range of meditations, varied religions, reading channeled material, sacred geometry, attempting altered states, yoga, etc. Pretty much throw a dart at a pathway, and I have done some hiking there. In my state of general discontentment, I even quit my well-paying job and went to live in a remote cabin in the woods for 6 years. It was less stressful, but no real transition. I had developed an increasingly encompassing anxiety that was driving my life. But my life by any normal standards is not stressful. I had to have at least 6 hours of aerobic activity alone in the woods to be able to function the following week. I was so thick and filtered that I did not experience things as they happened, but later in solitude I could process the events. I was also developing sore joints, doing a lot of jaw grinding, etc.

Having read many accounts of ayahuasca experiences, I was ready for the panic and the vomiting, but not for the music. That was the second biggest shock of the week. In the altered state of ayahuasca, the music is the language that conducts the experience, and its effect is profound. At this retreat, there was an older and a younger native shaman. They sang in a combination of Spanish and Quechua which I do not understand, so there was no conscious input from the words; the interaction was purely tonal.

There was also an older and a younger English speaking shaman, so occasionally they would sing in English and I would comprehend the words which had another effect. There were also two women who sang, which provided a very much needed maternal/nurturing feeling. They all also played some traditional instruments and occasionally whistled.

The group would direct the energetics through music, moving through a complex and sophisticated interaction, shifting half notes to create discord and then harmony. For example, one may hold a slow overarching rhythm while another expressed a more emotional sound. One may change tempo against the other and come back again. At other times they seemed to all be singing independently. It would purge and sooth, expand and relax. All these subtleties created and directed the otherwise completely chaotic and unhinged experience. I couldn’t possibly imagine going through this without it, and being in an environment of absolute safety and trust. It is an extremely vulnerable state.

The prior night could be best described as an exorcism. I was beat up and worn out by it, but I recovered to a remarkable point just prior to tonight’s ceremony. As I entered an altered state, hallucinations, rapid kaleidoscope images and a feeling of nausea and sickness overtook me as it had the prior night. The music was strong and driving in a specific direction. It seemed very loud. Weird sensations were moving through my body. My head was thick and spinning, and I was hoping it would pass so I could focus. Then there was a voice and a knocking from inside my head, like a thumping from inside a hollow metal drum.

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”

It was my voice, but being a bit of a smart ass.

“Turn off your fear layer. You are perceiving everything through a layer of fear. It can be turned off and on from the state that you are in right now.”

They showed me a simple four-sided box that was open on both ends.

“You look through this thing into all the goings on out here through a series of filters and perception layers… That generates your experience of waking reality. Fear distorts both the perception and the translation. It was mean't to be a fight or flight thing, but half of humanity is running around with the darn thing on all the time. It is everywhere. Look at your headlines, most of it has a basis in fear. Turn. Off. Your. Fear. Layer. Remember this if you can’t remember anything else.”

The words appeared in cartoon bubbles. Everything started melting; I was losing myself and going down a drain. I refused to go down the drain and got up and stumbled into a cold shower. Inside the shower my body was taken over and it began to do some kind of energy balancing on me, moving my hands completely out of my control over a very specific sequence of pressure points and breathing sequences and water washing. When this was complete, the fear and nausea were completely gone, and I felt an overwhelming strength. Like Sampson strength. Like give me a temple to crush strength. Damn, that was the best shower of my life!

“Nice. That’s old school,” I heard.

“Come on let's go, lots to do… unless you need to stay there and play with your muscles. Geez.”

I laid back down and the color and patterns were on an absolute maximum; just as much as I could possibly perceive, but I felt a lot better.

“Now look, here is the scary hallucination you saw last night through the fear layer. Now look at it again with the fear turned off.”

The image I had from the prior night that almost had me running out of the room looked completely normal.

“Get it? That creepy melting feeling on your skin is also a misinterpretation of a sensation that you don’t understand. It is not hurting you. It is like a breeze to someone who has been indoors all their life. Calm the freak down. This is not hurting you. Deal with it. We don’t turn down the music for the kids. You ready? We are tuning up for a show.”

I was lead through a series of bizarre and very fast moving psychedelic images. All along the way I would get various reactions: shivering, screaming, dry heaving and retching, strong limb twitching, and occasionally intense pleasure — each change initiated by a slight variation in the music. Then they rang a bell or bowl? And I felt very ill.

“Why do I get so sick when they ring that bell?” I asked.

“We use that as a kind of frequency comb. The pure tone of the gong resonates and creates sub-harmonics over many layers to create a grid structure. We drag that through your etheric body to rake out discordant frequencies.”

Ooooooooh! I get it. Rake away. I opened myself to the process and continued.

“The images you see that look like gibberish are in fact gibberish. There is nothing to figure out or understand with them. Your normal energetic body is sort of spread out right now and we are over flooding it with our cleaning process. Yes, you are seeing components of an energetic framework but it is all distorted, it doesn’t really look like that. It’s like somebody is banging around on the keys and strings of a piano while cleaning it. It’s not what Mozart sounds like. When there is something to see, you will know it. In the meantime stop thinking and breathe.”

The music shifted again and I saw a bunch of jellyfish-like images all moving rapidly in one direction.

“Those are fragmented energies being called home. It doesn’t concern you; let it be.”

It continued on like this for a while.

“The acoustics here in the Amazon are awesome. You can rock the whole planet from here. It is no accident that the plants you consumed grow here. We put all this together knowing humans would get homesick and they could visit this way.”

You mean from the origin of the species?

“Well, that’s actually another story, but it’s like a messed up long time ago.”

We came to a scene where there were a series of thin grey lifeless disconnected little fragments floating in space. I knew these were the components of my life as I saw them. They were the only things I had seen in the entire experience that had no life or color or movement to them. The scene then shifted to reveal them placed perfectly in an enormous mandala that was rotating perfectly in space. It pulsed with color and music and massive power. I absolutely freaked out.

No, no, no!! That’s not true! You can’t tell me that, it’s not true. I reacted with the deep emotional wound of a little boy who had been lost and away from home for a very long time. In his desolation, he convinced himself that he had no home, and could never be loved. It was the only way to deal with the pain and disappointment of a fruitless search. Then one day his mother found him and said, "I love you, come home." He screams at her, "no you don’t" and tries to run away.

“This is what you have been searching for. Your. Whole. Life.”

The scene opens up to an enormous domed concert hall with the most astonishing light show imaginable. The living force of the Amazon was there dancing in energetic patterns. The music shifted into fully harmonious tones that permeated me completely. I was paralyzed and shivering with tears pouring out of my eyes. Everything that ever hurt on any level was pulled out and soothed. The feeling was most likened to an orgasm but not centered in the genitals.

“Damn these guys are good, I gotta get this album.”

I don’t know how long it actually went on physically, but I can tell you it ended way too soon. As the music subsided and the ceremony ended, they rang little chimes which created geometrically perfect cylinders of light that overlapped as they expanded. Then the top of the building opened up revealing an intense view of the stars. Sitting up with eyes open and completely lucid, I could still see energetic structures present in the physical building we were in.

“You realize that you have shut off part of your rational function because it felt like it was in the way. You may want to think about that pretty soon as well.”

I thought about it. In college I was a math wiz, most comfortable in front of a differential equation that spewed over pages. These days I can scarcely add in my head. Hmmm…

I played the scene over in my head about 50 times over the next week until I could do it without shaking. I had no definition of my own presence. That deep infected wound of feeling on the outside all the time feels healed. I now know what it means to pray and to be in a state of reverence. I can tell my wife I love her for the first time without feeling angst. Both saying and hearing the term had always made me uncomfortable.

I breathe differently; I walk differently, and have a whole new fascination with the life I am living. I literally had been starving for the feel of this divine connection that I knew was there and could not find — and I looked hard. I had become an irritated bag of malnourished bones.

A big part of its power is that this process did not insist on its own framework. Although it is a shamanic pathway, I didn’t experience snakes and plant spirits and jaguars, even though I was in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Nor was any such thing presented or promoted by this host group. The doors opened and I linked in through metaphysics and geometry. It was intellectually perfect. That is the framework I needed. This process to remove blockages and entanglements feels clean and unencumbered by its own baggage.

It is so clear now why I had self-worth issues, avoided conflict, rarely maintained friendships, and generally preferred being alone. I wasn’t living my life, but was sitting and waiting for the timer to expire so I could go home. My overall anxiety is not better. It is gone — completely and absolutely gone.

http://reset.me/personal-story/how-i...ugh-ayahuasca/
 
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mr peabody

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Psychedelics and SA

I stopped taking my Paxil 2 days before. Everything was totally fine. Better than fine. Mushrooms are amazing. It's hard to describe. I didn't take a high dose - kind of in the middle. They make you feel brand new and alive. You feel genuine true happiness, everything feels new. Like you're seeing it for the first time. It's like being a child again.

-KelsKels

• • •

Magic mushrooms had a profound effect and drastically improved my mental state and ability to at least appear like I'm half holding myself together. Could not recommend them enough, but totally understand if you are skeptical, but after my experience I found out that I am not alone in the mental health community in seeing radical improvements with the use of psychedelics.

-Gorgoroth9

• • •

Mescaline clears your head and gives you a sort of mental massage. Leaves you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. I wpuld say DEFINITELY STAY AWAY from mushrooms, as in my experience they have only ever made anxiety MUCH WORSE. As for dose, I would say between 6 inches and 1 foot of san pedro cactus cooked into tea. Just remember it lasts for 7-12 hours, and sense of time is very distorted. A wonderful experience to say the least.

-justrecently

• • •

I microdose on magic mushrooms for mild social anxiety and mild - moderate depression and have found it very satisfying until now (done it for 3 weeks), but it's more of a gamble with high anxiety I would guess. I have made sure that after I feel the effect of the mushrooms I expose myself to positive stimuli, like a walk in the wood/running, making nice dinner, hearing soothing music, be with a friend etc. I feel more empathy, more open, less negative about myself and have a lot more energy as the positive effects.

-MegaNix
 
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mr peabody

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How psychedelics saved my life: My experience with anxiety and PTSD

I was drawn to journalism at a young age by the desire to provide a voice for the ‘little guy’. For nearly a decade working as a CNN investigative correspondent and independent journalist, I became a mouthpiece for the oppressed, the victimized, the marginalized. My path of submersion journalism brought me closest to the plight of my sources, by re-living the story to get a true understanding of what was happening.

After several years of reporting, I realized an unfortunate consequence of my style - I had immersed myself too deeply in the trauma and suffering of the people I’d interviewed. I began to have trouble sleeping as their faces appeared in my darkest dreams. I spent too long absorbed in a world of despair and my inability to deflect it allowed the trauma of others to settle inside my mind and being. Combine that with several violent experiences while working in the field and I was at my worst. A life spent reporting on the edge had led me to the brink of my own sanity.

Because I could not find a way to process my anguish, it grew into a monster, manifesting itself in a constant state of anxiety, short-term memory loss and sleeplessness. Heart palpitations made me feel like I was knocking on death’s door.

Why I chose psychedelic medicines

Prescription medications and antidepressants serve a purpose, but I knew they weren't for me. I first heard of the healing powers of psychedelics as a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Joe told me that psychedelic mushrooms transformed his life and had the potential to change the course of humanity for the better. My initial reaction was one of amusement and somewhat disbelief, but the seed was planted.

Psychedelics were an odd choice for someone like me. I grew up in the Midwest and was fed 30 years of propaganda about how bad these substances were. You can imagine my surprise when, after the Rogan podcast, I found so many articles and studies on the prodigious medicinal effects of these substances… and the examples of how we’ve been misled by authorities who classify psychedelics as Schedule 1 narcotics with ‘no medicinal value’ despite dozens of scientific studies proving otherwise.

Tripping around the world

Having only ever smoked the odd marijuana joint in college, in March 2013 I found myself boarding a plane to Iquitos, Peru to try one of the most powerful psychedelics on earth. I ditched my car at the airport, packed my belongings in a backpack and headed down to the Amazon jungle placing my blind faith in a substance that a week earlier I could hardly pronounce: Ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a medicinal tea that contains the psychedelic compound dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. The brew is rapidly spreading around the world after numerous anecdotes have shown the brew has the power to cure anxiety, PTSD,depression, unexplained pain, and numerous physical and mental health ailments. Studies of long-term ayahuasca drinkers show they are less likely to face addictions and have elevated levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness.

If I had any reservations, doubts, or disbeliefs, they were quickly expelled shortly after my first ayahuasca experience. The foul-tasting tea vibrated through my veins and into my brain as the medicine scanned my body. My field of vision became engulfed with colors and geometric patterns. Then I saw a vision of a brick wall. The word ‘anxiety’ was spray painted in large letters on the wall. “You must heal your anxiety,” the medicine whispered. I entered a dream-like state where traumatic memories were finally dislodged from my subconscious.

It was as if I was viewing a film of my entire life, not as the emotional me, but as an objective observer. The vividly introspective movie played in my mind as I relived my most painful scenes - my parents divorce when I was just 4 years-old, past relationships, being shot at by police while photographing a protest in Anaheim, and crushed underneath a crowd while photographing a protest in Chicago. Ayahuasca enabled me to reprocess these events, detaching the fear and emotion from the memories. The experience was akin to ten years of therapy in one eight-hour ayahuasca session.

But the experience was terrifying at times. Ayahuasca is not for everyone - you have to be willing to revisit some very dark places and surrender to the uncontrollable, fierce flow of the medicine. Ayahuasca also causes violent vomiting and diarrhea, which shamans call “getting well” because you are purging trauma from your body.

After seven ayahuasca sessions in the jungles of Peru, the fog that engulfed my mind lifted. I was able to sleep again and noticed improvements in my memory and less anxiety. I yearned to absorb as much knowledge as possible about these medicines and spent the next year traveling the world in search of more healers, teachers and experiences through submersion journalism.

I was drawn to try psilocybin mushrooms after reading how they reduced anxiety in terminal cancer patients. The ayahuasca showed me my main ailment was anxiety, and I knew I still had work to do to fix it. Psilocybin mushrooms are not neurotoxic, nonaddictive, and studies show they reduce anxiety, depression, and even lead to neurogenesis, or the regrowth of brain cells. Why would governments worldwide keep such a profound fungi out of the reach of their people?

After Peru, I visited curanderas, or healers, in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mazatecs have used psilocybin mushrooms as a sacrament and medicinally for hundreds of years. Curandera Dona Augustine served me a leaf full of mushrooms during a beautiful ceremony before a Catholic alter. As she sang thousand year-old songs, I watched the sunset over the mountainous landscape in Oaxaca and a deep sense of connectivity washed over my whole being. The innate beauty had me at a loss for words; a sudden outpouring of emotion had me in tears. I cried through the night and with each tear a small part of my trauma trickled down my cheek and dissolved onto the forest floor, freeing me from its toxic energy.

Perhaps most astounding, the mushrooms silenced the self-critical part of my mind long enough for me to reprocess memories without fear or emotion. The mushrooms enabled me to remember one of the most terrifying moments of my career: when I was detained at gunpoint in Bahrain while filming a documentary for CNN. I had lost any detailed recollection of the day when masked men pointed guns at our heads and forced my crew and I onto the ground. For a good half an hour, I did not know whether we were going to survive.

I spent many sleepless nights desperately searching for memories of that day, but they were locked in my subconscious. I knew the memories still haunted me because anytime I would see PTSD ‘triggers’, such as loud noises, helicopters, soldiers, or guns, a rush of anxiety and panic would flood my body.

The psilocybin was the key to unlock the trauma, enabling me to relive the detainment moment to moment, from outside of my body, as an emotionless, objective observer. I peered into the CNN van and saw my former self sitting in the backseat, loud helicopters overhead. My producer Taryn was sitting to the right of me frantically trying to close the van door as we tried to make an escape. I heard Taryn scream “guns!” as armed masked men jumped out of security vehicles surrounding the van. I frantically dug through a backpack on the floor, grabbing my CNN ID card and jumping out of the van. I saw myself land on the ground in child’s pose, and I watched as I threw my hand with the CNN badge in the air above my head yelling “CNN, CNN, don’t shoot!!”

I saw the pain in my face as security forces threw human rights activist and dear friend Nabeel Rajab against a security car and began to harass him. I saw the terror in my face as I glanced down at my shirt, arms in the air, praying the video cards concealed on my body wouldn’t fall onto the ground.

As I relived each moment of the detainment, I re-processed each memory, moving it from the “fear” folder to its new permanent home, the “safe” folder in my brain’s hard drive. Five ceremonies with psilocybin mushrooms cured me of my anxiety and PTSD symptoms. The butterflies that had a constant home in my stomach have flown away.

Psychedelics are not the be-all and end-all. For me, they were the key that opened the door to healing. I still have to work to maintain the healing with the use of floatation tanks, meditation, and yoga. For psychedelics to be effective, it’s essential they are taken with the right mindset in a quiet, relaxed setting conducive to healing, and that all potential prescription drug interactions are carefully researched. Ayahuasca can be fatal if mixed with prescription antidepressants.

I am blessed with an inquisitive nature and a stubbornness to always question authority. Had I opted for the doctor’s script and resigned myself in the hope that things would just get better, I never would have discovered the outer reaches of my mind and heart, and I might still be in the midst of my battle with PTSD.

https://www.sociedelic.com/how-psychedelics-saved-my-life/
 
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mr peabody

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Dreadful flying glove


I took a half blotter my first time, and had an absolutely amazing experience. One blotter has the potential to be too much for many people, not just people with anxiety disorders.

I've seen many psychiatrists, and I never had my SAD and GAD classified as anything but "very severe". Yet I handled it fine the first time. Even more important than "set and setting"
(and infinitely easier to control) in lowering the chances of a bad trip, is simply taking a lower dose.

I have a few suggestions for people with SA who may one day try LSD:

- NEVER let yourself be pressured into taking a psychedelic; go ahead only if you feel absolutely ready. Only do it if and when YOU feel it's right.

- Do it in a comfortable AND controlled environment, meaning if you might have to leave all of a sudden, or people might drop in on you unexpectedly, it's probably better to wait.

- If you're feeling stressed about anything, wait until you're feeling better. Alcohol and opiates tend to push problems to the side and help us forget about them, unlike psychedelics, which can bring problems to the surface.

- Have a sitter or friend with you. This is for your comfort AND safety. Plus, the magic of a trip just seems to be so much more amazing if you have somebody to share it with.

- Abortive and/or calming drugs like antipsychotics and benzos are good to have on hand.

- The effects of LSD can last up to 12 hours, and you want to make sure you allot at least this much time to regain absolute control over your environment. You also won't be able to sleep during this time, so make sure the timing is good. Ultimately you want about 48 hours to yourself where you don't have to work or anything.

-meyaj
 
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mr peabody

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Psilocybin showing promise for treating anxiety

Drugs based on the effects of psilocybin and ketamine are being tested for their potential to treat depression and anxiety. Some are being studied in the types of clinical trials that could eventually make them candidates for federal approval, while others could get a green light as soon as this summer.

Last year, researchers studying psilocybin, likened its quick effects on cancer patients with anxiety and depression to a "surgical intervention" for the mental illness. Brain scans suggest that depression ramps up the activity in brain circuits linked with negative emotions, and weakens activity in circuits linked with positive ones. Psilocybin appears to restore balance to that system. With that in mind, a company called Compass Pathways, which is backed by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, has plans to start its own clinical trials of magic mushrooms for depression later this year.

Some researchers have high hopes that a psilocybin-inspired drug will get approved within a decade. David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, told Business Insider last year that he believed psilocybin would become an "accepted treatment" for depression in the UK before 2027.

http://www.businessinsider.com/new-d...r=US&IR=T&IR=T
 
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mr peabody

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Sub control panel


Compound in magic mushrooms showing promise for anxiety

Since 2012, studies on psychedelic drugs' potential therapeutic benefits abound. One suggested psilocybin might alleviate anxiety in cancer patients; another that ecstasy could help veterans cope with PTSD symptoms; and one hinted that ketamine might curb major depression. Research on psychedelics seems to be leading to the development some promising potential treatments.

Drugs based on the effects of psilocybin and ketamine are being tested for their potential to treat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Some are being studied in the types of clinical trials that could eventually make them candidates for federal approval, while others could get a green light as soon as this summer.

Researchers studying psilocybin liken its quick effects on cancer patients with anxiety and depression to a "surgical intervention" for the mental illness. Brain scan studies suggest that depression ramps up the activity in brain circuits linked with negative emotions, and weakens the activity in circuits linked with positive ones. Psilocybin appears to restore balance to that system. With that in mind, a company called Compass Pathways, which is backed by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, has plans to start its own clinical trials of magic mushrooms for depression later this year.

Some researchers have high hopes that a psilocybin-inspired drug will get approved within a decade. David Nutt, director of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, told Business Insider last year that he believed psilocybin would soon become an "accepted treatment" for depression.

http://www.businessinsider.com/new-d...r=US&IR=T&IR=T
 
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mr peabody

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To anyone with social anxiety looking to self medicate with psychedelics

This is an ongoing series of posts I'm creating in order to help those suffering with severe social anxiety looking to self medicate in a safe, healthy, and effective manner.

Psychedelics can be a very valuable tool in your arsenal, and they're used in a wide variety of different ways. From the adventurous party goer dropping acid at a rave, to the philosophical monk taking a trip to South America for an Ayahuasca, these are some of the most diverse substances known to mankind. I've personally employed the usage of them for both recreation, and soul searching, and there's something I need to stress. Psychedelic drugs are not the be all end all wondrous source of enlightenment that many die hards would have you believe. Some of the "epiphany's" one can reach have no basis in reality at all. Also, in the vast majority of cases you're not going to have a great/bad trip and suddenly be cured of your social anxiety. Going into my first few experiences I had read anecdotal stories of such things happening, and wanted nothing more, having a mind set like mine will likely ensure that you don't. With that being said, these drugs can help you realize things pertaining to yourself/the world which you may not have normally been able to while sober. The following story is about just that....

Allow me to take you back to my senior year of high school. I was depressed as all hell to be leaving my little social bubble I had been entrenched in for the past four years, unable to even come close to holding a conversation with anyone outside of my immediate group of friends, the future outside of school seemed bleak to me. Until one night totally changed the trajectory my life was on at the time. I can't say I wouldn't have gotten to that place naturally, but I can say that if so, then this experience definitely streamlined the process.

I don't remember exactly how it happened, all I know is that I was supposed to be going to Las Vegas with a couple friends and trip on psilocybin mushrooms for the first time, having never tried a psychedelic previously. That weekend me and another friend procured some shrooms. This other friend didn't purchase any, so I gifted him some of what I bought in exchange for his company. After this I headed home, and being apprehensive of the experience only ingested half of the shrooms. What followed was an interesting but underwhelming experience, in which I experienced only minor visuals and a bit of euphoria. However I still had half of the mushrooms left.

Fast forward three days, and I lacked the self control to wait until my tolerance diminished completely. I took the rest of them, hoping for the mild euphoric experience I had experienced a few days prior, boy was I in for a surprise. My parents weren't home and I had the house to myself, and as I felt them coming on I walked around looking at the mild visuals I was again experiencing. For this to make sense to anyone who's not me I need to get into a bit of context. I was raised in a catholic household, and was taught that I would one day go to heaven. Even as a child this never particularly resonated with me, as the concept didn't make much sense, however being a young impressionable kid I went along with it.

In this moment however, all of those memories of being a scared child came rushing back. I finally thought about what exactly it meant that I would die one day, and holding the beliefs I did, that meant the end. Empty. Eternal. Nothingness. I mourned the fact that I'd never experienced extended physical contact with another human being since I was young, and at that point in time saw no future in which I could ever land myself a girlfriend/spouse. Before this point, I was for lack of a better word "comfortable" with myself. I had accepted that I would never see even the tiniest bit of relief from the case of social anxiety which was ruining my life. In that moment however, that all changed. From that point onward, I had a new goal in life. To get whatever the fuck I want, because I'm going to die one day so none of it will have mattered anyway right? At the top of that then list, beat that social anxiety. Now, things were not all fun and games. For 6-7 months after that I dealt with a crippling fear of dying, which invaded every corner of my life. There were times where I'd be having the time of my life, then suddenly remember that said life would one day end, completely taking me out of the moment into the cold embrace of fear and depression. But that same fear drove me—anytime I felt anxious in a social setting I would just think that simple thought, and it made things easier.

This is somewhat difficult to properly convey to people, as everyone knows they're going to die. Yet this experience changed the way I viewed that concept, with it still affecting the way I think, although now I no longer fear the inevitable. The drive to improve myself against all odds and by any means remained. If this night had never happened I truly believe that I would be a different person today, still hiding in my comfort zone. Never taking any chances in life. It is important to note that Shrooms absolutely did NOT cure my social anxiety, they simply motivated me to get up off my ass and do something about it in a way which nothing beforehand ever did. I still have a relatively minor case of social anxiety (especially compared to how severe it was before) and I think to some extent I always will, however I know I can still improve. Thanks in part to my old friend Psilocybin.

Now I don't have as much to say about LSD, however I've used it in the past at times where I've been slipping up in some of the habits I've set for myself to further my personal growth, and it's thrown me back on track each time.

Don't fall for the hype about psychedelics, they aren't some magical solution to all of your problems. They have, however, been beneficial to me in more subtle ways, such as a psilocybin experience giving me the motivation to improve myself. LSD is perhaps a bit more "recreational," though it too can be a powerful tool. TEST YOUR ACID, BE SAFE.

https://steemit.com/socialanxiety/@s...ybin-mushrooms
 
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mr peabody

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Ketamine effective as maintenance treatment for anxiety


In patients with treatment-refractory anxiety who responded to ketamine, weekly maintenance doses over 3 months were well tolerated and significantly improved social and work functioning, according to a small study published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

The findings suggest maintenance ketamine may be a therapeutic alternative for that patient population, researchers concluded.

“Their experience of ketamine treatment enabled them to make substantial changes to their lives (employment, study, making friends, engaging socially, and traveling),” a Psychiatric News Alert article quoted from the study. “Reduced anxiety meant that everyday tasks were less onerous. Most patients reported an increase in their ability to concentrate, leading to improvement in their functionality.”

Ketamine quickly eases depression, but questions remain

The anesthetic agent ketamine and other glutamatergic drugs produce rapid antidepressant effects in humans, reports a new evidence review published online in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. However, questions about the agents and their ramifications persist.

“This paradigm shift lends additional urgency to the development of novel treatments for major depressive disorder and bipolar depression, particularly for patient subgroups that do not respond to currently available therapies,” wrote Carlos A. Zarate Jr., MD, and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health.

In their review, Dr. Zarate and colleagues reported that ketamine has demonstrated antidepressant response in patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder within 2 hours of intravenous injection. Peak effects in the population occurred at 24 hours.

Why not make ketamine a first-line treatment?

Evidence suggests ketamine may also ease suicidal thoughts, according to the review. In people with treatment-resistant bipolar depression, ketamine combined with other medications has demonstrated quick antidepressant effect.

"Consequently, some providers are already using ketamine for severe or treatment-resistant depression," the authors point out. "However, such use is off-label, unstandardized, and unregulated, and questions about the drug’s side effects and abuse potential remain."

“Efforts are underway,” they added “to bring ketamine to market, standardize its use, and determine its real-world effectiveness.”

Psychiatrists issue 'much-needed' consensus on ketamine for mood disorders

Esketamine, another glutamatergic medication, has received breakthrough status from the US Food and Drug Administration for patients at imminent risk of suicide, they noted.

In another review, also published online in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, a study team evaluated neuroimaging research on ketamine’s effects on brain areas involved in depression.

"Ketamine may acutely disable the emotional resources required to perpetuate the symptoms of depression,” reported Cristina Cusin, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues. "The drug may also increase emotional blunting as well as boost activity in reward processing," they wrote.

The open-label study involved 20 patients with generalized anxiety disorder and/or social anxiety disorder who responded to ketamine in a previous ascending-dose study. Patients in the maintenance treatment study had 1-2 weekly doses of 1 mg/kg of ketamine injected subcutaneously for 3 months.

Just 1 hour after injection, ratings on both the Fear Questionnaire and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale dropped 50%, researchers reported. Over the course of the study, mean scores on the Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale decreased, from 20 points at week 1 to 8.8 points at week 14.

Adjunctive intranasal esketamine eases Treatment-Resistant Depression

In patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), twice-weekly intranasal esketamine added to oral antidepressant therapy produced rapid and meaningful improvement in depressive symptoms in a phase 2 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Dr. Ella Daly, of the Department of Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development in Titusville, New Jersey, and colleagues reported the findings online December 27 in JAMA Psychiatry.

“The results of the study by Daly and colleagues demonstrate the considerable promise of combining a compound with rapid antidepressant effects with intranasal delivery,” write Dr. Daniel Quintana and colleagues from University of Oslo, Norway, in a linked editorial.

Dr. Daly and colleagues tested 28-mg, 56-mg, and 84-mg doses of esketamine nasal spray given twice weekly as an adjunct to existing oral antidepressant therapy in 67 patients with TRD.

All three doses of esketamine produced a rapid antidepressant effect superior to placebo, as evidenced by significant changes in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score. The score declines were -4.2, -6.3 and -9.0 for the 28-mg, 56-mg and 84-mg doses, respectively.

“Improvement in depressive symptoms persisted over the open-label phase, despite reduced dosing frequency, and for up to 2 months after cessation of esketamine dosing,” the investigators note.

The three esketamine doses appeared to be safe, with no new or unexpected safety concerns

Dr. Quintana said it is “reassuring to learn that no psychotic symptoms were observed in the trial; however, patients with psychotic disorders or major depressive disorder with psychosis were excluded from the study. The most common adverse effect, dissociative symptoms, fits with the known effects of ketamine, and should be further clarified before starting routine use in clinical practice,” they write. "In addition, several issues related to long-term use, including the potential for addiction and adverse effects, need to be carefully assessed in future studies," they say.

“Given the early stages of research in esketamine treatment of depression, it is important to be cautious. We look forward to further research developments of intranasal esketamine as a novel treatment for depression given the crucial need for better antidepressants,” write Dr. Quintana and colleagues.

"About 1/3 of patients with major depressive disorder do not respond to current treatment options," Dr. Husseini Manji, Janssen's Global Head of Neuroscience Therapeutic Area, said in a news release. "The results of this study reinforce the potential of esketamine as a treatment for patients with treatment-resistant depression, and support further clinical research, providing hope for people in need. If approved by the FDA, esketamine would be one of the first new approaches to treat refractory major depressive disorder available to patients in the last 50 years."

“Phase 3 studies in treatment-resistant depression are ongoing and we are working on finalizing those studies now,” Dr. Daly told Reuters Heath by email.

Of the 20 patients enrolled in the study, 18 completed all 3 months of maintenance treatment—and all reported improvements in social and work functioning, Psychiatric News Alert reported. Two weeks after their last ketamine injection, 8 patients experienced some return of anxiety (5 experienced full re-emergence). Three months after maintenance treatment ended, 5 patients remained well.

Nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision were the most common adverse events during the study.

https://www.psychcongress.com/articl...atment-anxiety
 
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mr peabody

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Ann and Alexander Shulgin


Psychedelic medicine for anxiety

by Cheryl Pellerin

After the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act of 1970 put psychedelics and cannabis in Schedule 1, research on both essentially ended.

But now the authors describe two recent clinical studies that used psilocybin along with psychotherapy and produced positive results in treating anxiety and depression.

Both are randomized placebo-controlled studies recently completed by groups at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and NYU. Study results are in press. Both are reasonably large phase II trials of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in patients suffering from cancer-related psychosocial distress.

“These two studies,” the authors wrote, “represent the first sufficiently powered, formal double-blind, placebo-controlled assessment of a psychedelic agent for therapeutic effect using modern clinical approaches and assessment instruments.”

"Both studies found remarkable efficacy. That is unprecedented for cancer-related psychosocial distress with any currently available conventional therapies,”
they added.

The JHU study investigated the effects of a high oral psilocybin dose with a low dose as a placebo on anxiety or depressive disorders caused or worsened by the cancer diagnosis.

Rating scales showed sustained positive effects on anxiety and depression at six months, and an immediate post-session mystical experience (a subjective experience involving feelings of internal and external unity, sacredness, positive mood, transcendence of time and space, among others) score correlated strongly with positive therapeutic results.

The study showed that a single psilocybin dose, given under supportive conditions to screened and prepared participants, produced substantial and enduring decreases in anxiety and depression in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.
 
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Least anxiogenic psychedelics


-2C-I and 4-HO-MET are both pretty good that way, IME.

TheAzo

2C-C is by far the least anxiety provoking psychedelic IMO, 2C-B coming in close second. I also think Mescaline can be very friendly.

-<SpaceHead>

2C-C is magical in this respect. 4-HO-MET, 4-HO-MiPT or 4-HO-MPT are all wonderfully colorful without being too anxiety inducing.

-reformer

5-MeO-DMT. I love it, it is almost like benzo and it gives me state of extreme peacefulness. 2C-I is nice and enjoyable!

-allium

My girlfriend suffers from anxiety and is taking citalopram for it, and she says 4-AcO-DiPT produces no anxiety for her.

-MachoSavage

2c-c by a wide margin. Its hard to even imagine anxiety on 2c-c at less than about 60mg.

-egor

2C-B and 4-AcO-DMT (very very similar drugs) are very easy to handle mentally, 2C-B makes me euphoric and takes me "along for the ride" without any emotional effort.

-danceofdays

5-Me0-DALT is a great psych for a new tripper. It's not heavy mentally or visually. But the bodily euphoria is something else, and it's a great introduction to the profoundness.

-Carver Slice

Well, I tried the 4-AcO-DMT tonight at 10mg. No anxiety or negative sides at all!

-Reefers

Mescaline. Extremely clear headspace, warm visuals that aren't overwhelming. Very much like a warm blanket over a psychedelic.

-SpecialK_

I would have said 2C-C earlier but after trying a few tryptamines I would say 4-HO-DiPT.

-Solipsis


http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/562842-The-Least-Anxiogenic-Psychedelic
 
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mr peabody

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Could psychedelic drugs treat depression and anxiety?


Psychedelic such as LSD and ayahuasca change the structure of nerve cells, causing them to sprout more branches and spines, UC Davis researchers have found. This could help in "rewiring" the brain to treat depression and other disorders.

Scientists have demonstrated how psychedelic drugs such as DOI, DMT, and LSD, cause structural and functional changes in brain cells that could feasibly be harnessed to help treat depression and related disorders. Depression is known to cause the atrophy of neurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the brain, and in vitro and in vivo studies by researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found that different classes of psychedelic drugs increase the numbers of neuronal branches, or dendrites, as well as the density of dendritic spines and synapses in cortical neurons. Some psychedelics tested, including LSD, demonstrated structural effects that were even more potent than those of the anesthetic ketamine, which over the last two decades has been the subject of intense research as a potentially fast-acting antidepressant for people who don’t respond to existing therapies.

“People have long assumed that psychedelics are capable of altering neuronal structure, but this is the first study that clearly and unambiguously supports that hypothesis,” comments research head David Olsen, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular medicine at UC Davis. “What is really exciting is that psychedelics seem to mirror the effects produced by ketamine.”

The UC Davis team has coined the term "psychoplastogen" to describe neuronal plasticity-promoting compounds, and reports on its work in a paper, entitled “Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Plasticity,” which is published today in Cell Reports.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that the pathophysiology of depression and related disorders is associated with atrophy in PFC neurons and with “structural changes, such as the retraction of neurites, loss of dendritic spines, and elimination of synapses,” the researchers write. "One of the hallmarks of depression is that the neurites in the prefrontal cortex—a key brain region that regulates emotion, mood, and anxiety—those neurites tend to shrivel up," Dr. Olson explains.

Finding compounds that can promote structural and functional plasticity of neurons in the PFC could feasibly offer a general solution to treating such disorders, but the few compounds identified so far have “significant drawbacks,” the team continues. Of these, the most promising, ketamine, has shown “remarkable clinical potential as a fast-acting antidepressant,” even for treatment-resistant populations. Studies in animals have shown that the compound can promote the growth of dendritic spines, boost production of synaptic proteins, and bolster synaptic signaling.

Some clinical studies have shown that, like ketamine, serotonergic psychedelic drugs can also have long-lasting antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, including in treatment-resistant patients, and one, MDMA recently received FDA breakthrough therapy designation for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, while such serotonergic psychedelics have demonstrated promising anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, how they work isn’t yet understood, and questions about their potential safety has held back clinical use. "These are some of the most powerful compounds known to affect brain function, it's very obvious to me that we should understand how they work," Dr. Olson states.

This similarity between the effects of serotonergic psychedelic drugs and ketamine, both in clinical studies and in animal models, led the UC Davis team to reason and test whether the therapeutic effects of these different drugs might stem from similar mechanisms of action, which promote structural and functional plasticity in cortical neurons.

Initial in vitro studies using rodent cortical cultures showed that just about all of the tryptamine, amphetamine, and ergoline-type psychedelic compounds tested promoted neuritogenesis, with many demonstrating more potent effects than ketamine. In vivo evaluation in Drosophila larvae then confirmed that the drugs significantly increased dendritic branching of sensory neurons.

“…our results demonstrate that psychedelics can promote changes in neuronal structure across vertebrate (rats) and invertebrate (Drosophila) species, suggesting that they act through an evolutionarily conserved mechanism.”


Loss of dendritic spines is another hallmark of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, and in a separate set of microscopy studies the UC Davis team showed that treatment of mature rat cortical cultures with DOI (amphetamine), DMT (tryptamine), and LSD (ergoline) increased the numbers of dendritic spines, and also promoted the formation of synapses, resulting in increased synaptic density. Follow-on in vivo studies in adult rats also showed that treatment with DMT led to increases in dendritic spine density in prefrontal cortical neurons 24 hours after dosing. These results were comparable to those resulting from a similar dose of ketamine. DMT-induced increases in dendritic spine density were also linked with increased postsynaptic electrical activity. “Because the half-life of DMT is exceedingly short (~15 min), these results confirm that structural and functional changes induced by DMT persist for hours after the compound has been cleared by the body,” the team said.

Prior studies have demonstrated that the behavioral effects of ketamine are dependent on brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is also known to play a role in neuritogenesis and spinogenesis. The team’s studies also demonstrated that inhibiting BDNF’s high-affinity receptor TrkB (or tropomyosin receptor kinase B) blocked the ability of either the psychedelic drugs or BDNF itself to stimulate neuritogenesis and spinogenesis.

Activation of TrkB promotes mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, “which plays a key role in structural plasticity, the production of proteins necessary for synaptogenesis, and the effects of ketamine,” the authors comment. Then they found that treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin also blocked the ability of psychedelic drugs to promote neuritogenesis, “thus confirming that mTOR activation plays a role in the plasticity-promoting effects of classical serotonergic psychedelics."

In a final set of studies the researchers investigated whether the serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptor, which is primarily responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of classical psychedelics, played any role in the plasticity promoting effects of DOI, DMT, and LSD. They found that chemically inhibiting 5-HT2A completely blocked psychedelic drug-related neuritogenesis and spinogenesis.

“Our work strengthens the growing body of literature indicating that psychoplastogens capable of promoting plasticity in the PFC might have value as fast-acting antidepressants and anxiolytics with efficacy in treatment-resistant populations and suggests that it may be possible to use classical psychedelics as lead structures for identifying safer alternatives."

"Ketamine is no longer our only option,” Dr. Olson notes. “Our work demonstrates that there are a number of distinct chemical scaffolds capable of promoting plasticity, like ketamine, providing additional opportunities for medicinal chemists to develop safer and more effective alternatives.”

“We have demonstrated that the plasticity-promoting properties of psychedelics require TrkB, mTOR, and 5-HT2A signalling, suggesting that these key signalling hubs may serve as potential targets for the development of psychoplastogens, fast-acting antidepressants, and anxiolytics,” the authors conclude. “Taken together, our results suggest that psychedelics may be used as lead structures to identify next-generation neurotherapeutics with improved efficacy and safety profiles.”

https://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/could-psychedelic-drugs-treat-depression-and-anxiety/81255910
 
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mr peabody

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LSD liberated me from the prison I had built for myself

I was 20 years old, freshly dropped out of college, and a couple months removed from my first drink. I bloomed into rebellion later than most, because I grew up in the shadow of my sister’s addictions, multiplicitous, but primarily oriented towards methamphetamine. I’d always seen all drugs as shades of the same.

My panic attacks began on my first day of kindergarten. By 2nd grade, I’d taught myself how to fake sick well enough that I missed half a semester with “allergies.” When middle school rolled around, my anxieties manifested in a physical way. My blood cell counts plummeted. The doctors ran every test imaginable. I laid in bed all day. I wore a surgical mask when I left the house. A cold would kill him, the doctor whispered.

Suicidal thoughts started when I was 16. I had scarcely made it through my freshman orientation when I swallowed a bottle of pills and awoke in a hospital. My scholarship was revoked, my invitation to an education was rescinded, and my family was scared to look me in the eye.

So now here I was, a year later, as anxious and depressed as ever. I’d tried a dozen different SSRIs and mood stabilizers. Nothing worked.

I was working at a coffee shop, and I’d started hanging out with a hippie coworker named A. I’d text him late at night when I found myself spiraling and he’d bring me a gram of pot and we’d smoke on my porch until my eyes grew heavy and I could sleep.

When he mentioned LSD to me for the first time, I scoffed. I’d seen the cartoonish depictions of acid trips in movies, and I’d heard all the scare-lines: it stays in your system forever, it drives you mad etc. But of course, desperation can awaken in a man any number of possibilities of which he never thought himself capable. A called it spiritual. I was so tired of hurting.

2 weeks later, he showed up at my apartment with tin foil and a book called Be Here Now. I placed the stamps on my tongue and thumbed through the book. I couldn’t make head or tail of it. All the hippie jargon and imprecise language. Why had he given this to me? What was I hoping to find?

I laid in my bed and turned out the lights. I began to see trails of light across the dark corners of my bedroom. I felt stirred to stand. I drifted towards the window, but instead of urban blight, it was pure light, living water. I floated atop the water of the endless ocean. Not a wave or ripple as far as the horizon. A place of strange and perfect calm.

My busy head was quieted. I had no fear of the future, or regret of the past. I lived in the timeless present. My anxieties of inadequacy disappeared. My ego stretched and snapped, my costume flew off, and all that was left was pure awareness. I sat in boundless beauty. It was a miracle, and it was totally ordinary. When I opened my eyes, I was back in my room. The song played itself out. I had slipped out of my pain for a lifetime and fallen back into my body here, three minutes later.

I rushed to the mirror, surveyed the vehicle that carried my pure consciousness across time and space, and for the first time in my life, I felt total compassion for him. I forgave my body for its asymmetry; I forgave my brain for its limitations; I gave up the narratives I’d created. And it liberated me from the prison I’d built for myself.

4 years since that trip, I’ve had no major depressive or manic episodes. I haven’t taken a psychedelic in two years, and I’m no longer prescribed antidepressants. I’m working to cultivate a daily meditation practice, and I’m lighter, happier, and more stable than I ever thought possible.

Like a fish can’t see water, I couldn’t see that the point was right in front of me. Everything is everything, and I am part of the unfolding. Call it God, the simulation code or the quantum fabric of our physical world. Whatever the name, the good, the bad, the pain, the ecstasy, it’s all divine.

I can’t go back and teach my younger self that lesson, so I’m writing it down. I hope this finds someone at just the right time and place to receive it.

https://www.psymposia.com/magazine/l...lt-for-myself/
 
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mr peabody

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Psilocybin healed me from crippling anxiety


When I was in my late teens I first experienced my first real bout of depression, precipitated by the social isolation that came from acute social anxiety. I felt insecure and inadequate amongst my peers, so avoided socializing completely unless alcohol was involved.

Fast forward through my 20’s and early 30’s and the rut I developed as an adolescent had stayed with me. The pattern was work, where I felt safe and in control, and then evening drinking in the bars and clubs as a social outlet. I avoided anything social where drinking would be unacceptable, I felt as though I needed it to mask my anxiety.

Throughout those years of many extremely drunken nights, I accumulated what I can only describe as a ball and chain of shame. From the many forgotten nights, fights, arrests and broken bones I increasingly looked back at my past and only saw failure. Bouts of depression were a recurring feature, broken up by periods of welcome but fragile relief when the latest SSRI prescription temporarily lifted my mood.

At 33 I left my fairly respectable 4-year position as Head of Technical at a media company, due to stress and the desire to take time out to try and ‘fix’ my issues, I left with no plans other than to ‘work on myself.’ I ended up moving back to my mum’s house where the following events took place.

I had been out of work for a couple of months and Instead of a life of self-development and exploration, stagnation and rumination had firmly set in. Christmas came, and went, and as the days passed I feel ever deeper in to a dark and lonely place…

I became extremely socially anxious, terrified of the future and resentful of the past. I was rendered house bound or even bed bound for much of the time. The anxiety was so crushing that had to force myself just to eat a bowl of cereal each day, and when I was out of bed I paced around like a caged animal, the suffering and fear were intense.

As the days, weeks and months fell through my fingers and I had failed to pull myself out of the hole, the feelings of hopelessness grew. The thought of suicide advanced from a fantasy to a considered reality. Over my life I had tried SSRI’s, MAOI’s, CBT, counseling, drama therapy, high does fish oil, transcranial direct current stimulation, running and more and now I had got to the point where I thought I had run out of options and hope. And then, after more than six months of blackness, I had an incredible experience.

It was the darkest night of my life. Followed by a kind of awakening. Early on in the day, I was running through the park feeling full of pain, fear and shame, desperate to escape the never-ending crippling anxiety and depression. I clasped my hands together and asked God/the universe (even though I consider myself an atheist) for help and guidance to see me through and to help me learn to accept myself…

That night I decided to take some magic mushrooms. I had read about their healing potential with depression and PTSD so with little else to try I swallowed 2 grams of ‘Golden Teacher’ mushrooms and retired for the evening to bed.

An hour later I was lying in bed with a deep sense of dread, my mind racing over the past. All my foolish mistakes and drunken incidents, all the bitterness and fear I had felt. All the resentment towards my family for the pain of the past. All my social anxiety and fear of judgment, embarrassment or rejection, and all my foolish and selfish behavior.

At that moment I felt my heart break and my soul die. In that moment I felt sure I was doomed, that it was too late to live the life I had once imagined or be the person I would have liked to be. All hope was lost…

As I lay in bed in the near dark, puffing on my vape pen, the layers of water vapor stratified and descended over the room like an eerie mist. In the dull light, my bed sheets appeared like a death shroud, draped over my torso and knees, ossified and covered in cobwebs. On the back of the door hung a long black jumper and I suddenly felt as though an angel of death was standing there watching over my corpse, signaling the end for me.

I gasped in a panic, shocked at the feeling of annihilation. In the midst and terror off feeling my whole being and identity crumble, I sat up and focused my mind intensely. Then came a voice, from what seemed outside of me, a voice of strength and wisdom. It said ‘No more blame.’ All of a sudden, what felt like a light and energy from the universe, lit up my body and filled my empty corpse with life. My heart burst open, with an incredible fire, and for the first time, I understood.

I started sobbing and cried ‘thank you’, ‘thank you’ with a feeling of gratitude so powerful I had never felt before. I was overjoyed to be alive, filled with feelings of love; for my family and friends, and all other beings finding their way through their short time on this earth.

I bowed down across my bed, hands clasped, in astonishment, bursting with gratitude, humility and love. My deep feelings of shame dissolved as I caressed my face softly. With tears of joy I declared ‘I am human, I am flesh and blood, I am not a worm’… And like a universal wisdom was raining down on me I felt I understood true compassion, the power of love to destroy fear, the unity of all mankind, the meaning of giving, humility, strength and courage.

Realizations ran through my mind, like dominos, knocking down one old thought pattern after another, releasing me from the mental prison I had found myself in. I laughed and cried wiggling my feet and toes as though I were a child again, rediscovering the joy of playfulness and the sensuality of my own body; and then came another realization; ‘I am not a victim, I have agency in this world.’

I made my way down to the garden, outside the night sky was clear and the air was fresh. I smiled and laughed at the new feelings of love and appreciation I could feel. For my mum, my dad, all my family and friends; the night sky, the cool breeze, plants, slugs and everything else. Deepest of all I felt love for my sister, who has tried so hard to help me over the years. I felt the love and bond between us like a mixing of particles stretching across the universe, harmonious and inseparable. I bowed down again with appreciation and humility to whatever had released me. I was resurrected.

The next day my depression was gone, I had no anxiety, I chatted with an old friend without an ounce of self-consciousness that would always have plagued me. And I felt like I am a man, not a boy for the first time in my life.

I still am depression free am working everyday with gratitude and humility to build the kind of life I can be proud of.

http://reset.me/personal-story/psilocybin-healed-me-from-crippling-depression-and-anxiety/
 
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mr peabody

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How psychedelics kill the ego and transform the brain

Estalyn Walcoff arrived at the nondescript beige building in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood on a balmy August morning, hours before the city would begin to swell with the frenetic energy of summer tourists. She was about to face a similar type of chaos — but only in her mind.

Pushing open the door to the Bluestone Center at the NYU College of Dentistry, Walcoff entered what looked like an average 1970s living room. A low-backed brown couch hugged one wall. On either side, a dark brown table held a homely lamp and an assortment of colorful, hand-painted dishes. A crouching golden Buddha statue, head perched thoughtfully on its knee, adorned another table closer to the entrance.

Months before, Walcoff had volunteered to participate in a study of how the psychedelic drug psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, affects the brain in cancer patients with anxiety and depression. The promising results of that five-year study, published in December, have prompted some researchers to liken the treatment to a "surgical intervention."

The researchers believe they are on the cusp of nothing less than a breakthrough: A single dose of psychedelic drugs appears to alleviate the symptoms of some of the most common, perplexing, and tragic illnesses of the brain. Because depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, the timing seems ideal.

In people like Walcoff, whose depression and anxiety strike after a cancer diagnosis like a powerful blow, one dose of psilocybin seemed to quiet her existential dread, to remind her of her connectedness with the world around her, and, perhaps most importantly, to reassure her of her place in it.

And these results don't seem to be limited to people with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. Participants in a handful of other studies of psychedelics consistently ranked their trips as one of their most meaningful life experiences— not only because of the trip itself, but because of the changes they appear to produce in their lives in the months and years afterward.

Still, the existing research is limited — which is why, scientists say, they so badly need permission from the government to do more.





Clark's story


1990 was a year of life and death for Clark Martin. His daughter was born, and he was diagnosed with cancer.

Over the next 20 years, as his daughter took her first steps, experienced her first day of school, and eventually grew into a smart, fiercely independent teenager, doctors waged a blitzkrieg on Martin's body. Six surgeries. Two experimental treatments. Thousands of doctor visits. The cancer never went into remission, but Martin and his doctors managed to keep it in check by staying vigilant, always catching the disease just as it was on the brink of spreading.

Still, the cancer took its toll. Martin was riddled with the effects of anxiety and depression. He had become so focused on saving his body from the cancer that he hadn't made time for the people and things in his life that really mattered. His relationships were in shambles; he and his daughter barely spoke.

So in 2010, after reading an article in a magazine about a medical trial that involved giving people with cancer and anxiety the drug psilocybin, he contacted the people running the experiment and asked to be enrolled.

After weeks of lengthy questionnaires and interviews, he was selected. On a chilly December morning, Martin walked into the facility at Johns Hopkins, where he was greeted by two researchers, including Bill Richards, a psychologist. The three of them sat and talked in the room for half an hour, going over the details of the study and what might happen.

Martin received a pill and swallowed it with a glass of water. For study purposes, he couldn't know whether it was a placebo or psilocybin, the drug the researchers aimed to study.

Next, he lay back on the couch, covered his eyes with the soft shades he'd been given, and waited.

Within a few minutes, Martin began to feel a sense of intense panic.

"It was quite anxiogenic," he said. "and I just wanted everything to snap back into place. There was no sense of time, and I realized the drug was in me and there was no stopping it."

Martin, an avid sailor, told me it reminded him of a frightening experience he'd had when after a wave knocked him off his boat, he suddenly became disoriented and lost track of the boat, which was floating behind him.

"It was like falling off the boat in the open ocean, looking back, and the boat is gone," he said. "And then the water disappears. Then you disappear."

Martin was terrified and felt on the verge of a "full-blown panic attack." Thanks to the comfort and guidance of his doctors, however, he was eventually able to calm down. Over the next few hours, the terror vanished. It was replaced with a sense of tranquility that Martin still has trouble putting into words.

"With the psilocybin, you get an appreciation — it's out of time — of well-being, of simply being alive and a witness to life and to everything and to the mystery itself," said Martin.

Lots of things happened to Martin during his four-hour trip. For a few hours, he remembers feeling at ease; he was simultaneously comfortable, curious, and alert. He recalls a vision of being in a sort of cathedral, where he asked God to speak to him. More than anything else, though, he no longer felt alone.

"The whole 'you' thing just kinda drops out into a more timeless, more formless presence," Martin said.

As his trip slowly began to draw to a close and he began to return to reality, Martin recalls a moment when the two worlds — the one in which he was hallucinating and the reality he could call up from memory — seemed to merge. He turned his attention to his relationships. He thought of his daughter, his friends, his coworkers.

"In my relationships, I had always approached it from a 'How do I manage this?' How do I present myself?' 'Am I a good listener?' type of standpoint," Martin said. "But it dawned on me as I was coming out of the trip that relationships are pretty much spontaneous if you're just present and connecting."

That shift, which Martin said has deepened since he took the psilocybin in 2010, has had enduring implications for his relationships.

"Now if I'm meeting people, the default is to be just present — not just physically, but mentally present to the conversation," he said. "That switch has been profound."

While he felt himself undergo a shift during his trip on psilocybin, Martin says the most enduring changes in his personality and his approach to interacting with those around him have unfolded in the months and years since he took the drug. For him, the drug was merely a catalyst — a "kick-start," he likes to call it. By redirecting his perspective for a few hours, the psilocybin unleashed a chain reaction in the way he sees and approaches the world, he said.

This squares with what researchers have found by looking at the brain on psilocybin.

Taking the road less traveled

Ask a healthy person who has tripped on psychedelics what it felt like, and they'll probably tell you they saw sounds. The crash-bang of a dropped box took on an aggressive, dark shape.

Or they might say they heard colors. A bright green light seemed to emit a piercing, high-pitched screech.

In actuality, this "cross-wiring" — synaesthesia, as it's known scientifically — may be one example of the drug "freeing" the brain from its typical connection patterns.

This fundamental change in how the brain sends and receives information also might be the reason the drugs are so promising as a treatment for people with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or addiction. To understand why, it helps to take a look at how a healthy brain works.





Normally, information is exchanged in the brain using various circuits, or what one researcher described to me as "informational highways." On some highways, there's a steady stream of traffic. On others, however, there are rarely more than a few cars on the road. Psychedelics appear to drive traffic to these underused highways, opening up dozens of different routes and freeing up some space along the more heavily used ones.

Robin Carhart-Harris, who leads the psychedelic research arm of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, captured these changes in one of the first neuroimaging studies of the brain on a psychedelic trip. He presented his findings last year in New York at a conference on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. With the psilocybin, "there was a definite sense of lubrication, of freedom, of the cogs being loosened and firing in all sorts of unexpected directions," Carhart-Harris said.

This might be just the kick-start that a depressed brain needs.

One key characteristic of depression is overly strengthened connections in brain circuits in certain regions of the brain — particularly those involved in concentration, mood, conscious thought, and the sense of self. This may be part of the reason that electroconvulsive therapy, which involves placing electrodes on the temples and delivering a small electrical current, can help some severely depressed people — it tamps down on some of this traffic.

"In the depressed brain, in the addicted brain, in the obsessed brain, it gets locked into a pattern of thinking or processing that's driven by the frontal, the control center, and they cannot un-depress themselves," David Nutt, the director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences at Imperial College London, told me.




Visualization of the connections in the brain of a person on psilocybin, right, and in a person not given the drug.


Nutt is one of the pioneering researchers in the field of studying how psychedelics might be used to treat mental illness. He said that in depressed people, these overly trafficked circuits — think West Los Angeles at rush hour — can lead to persistent negative thoughts. Feelings of self-criticism can get obsessive and overwhelming. So to free someone with depression from those types of thoughts, traffic would need to be diverted from some of these congested ruts and, even better, redirected to emptier highways.

That's precisely what psychedelics appear to do.

"Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape," Nutt said. "At least for the duration of the trip, they can escape about the ruminations about depression or alcohol or obsessions. And then they do not necessarily go back."

A 4-hour trip, a long-lasting change

"Medically, what you're doing with psychedelics is you're perturbing the system," Paul Expert, who coauthored one of the first studies to map the activity in the human brain on psilocybin, told me over tea on a recent afternoon in London's bustling Whitechapel neighborhood.

Expert, a physicist at the King's College London Center for Neuroimaging Sciences, doesn't exactly have the background you'd expect of someone studying magic mushrooms.

But it was by drawing from his background as a physicist, Expert told me, that he and his team were able to come up with a systematic diagram of what the brain looks like on a psilocybin trip. Their study, published in 2014, also helps explain how altering the brain temporarily with psilocybin can produce changes that appear to develop over time.

When you alter how the brain functions — "perturb the system," in physicist parlance — with psychedelics, "that might reinforce some connections that already exist, or they might be more stimulated," Expert said.

But those changes aren't as temporary as one might expect from a four-hour shrooms trip. Instead, they appear to catalyze dozens of other changes that deepen for months and years after taking the drug.

"So people who take magic mushrooms report for a long time after the actual experience that they feel better, they're happier with life," said Expert. "But understanding exactly why this is the case is tricky because the actual trip is short, and it's not within that short span of time that you can make those new connections. That takes much more time."





The clinical trials that Walcoff and Martin took part in, which took place at NYU and Johns Hopkins over five years, are the longest and most comprehensive studies we have to date of people with depression using psychedelics.

Last year, a team of Brazilian researchers published a review of all the clinical trials on psychedelics published between 1990 and 2015. After looking at 151 studies, the researchers found only six that met their analysis criteria. The rest were either too small, too poorly controlled, or problematic for another reason.

Nevertheless, based on the six studies, the researchers concluded that ayahuasca, psilocybin, and LSD may be "useful pharmacological tools for the treatment of drug dependence, and anxiety and mood disorders, especially in treatment-resistant patients."

"These drugs may also be useful pharmacological tools to understand psychiatric disorders and to develop new therapeutic agents,"
they wrote.

Because the existing research is so limited, scientists still can't say exactly what is happening in the brain of someone who has tripped on psychedelics that appear to unleash such a cascade of life changes like the kind Martin described.

What we do know, though, is that things like practicing a musical instrument or learning a skill change the brain. It's possible that psychedelics do something similar over the long term, even if the actual trip — the phase of drug use that many people focus on — is pretty brief.

"In other words, a trip might trigger a sort of snowball effect in the way the brain processes information," Expert said.

And something about the experience appears to be much more powerful for some people than even years of taking antidepressants.

A small recent trial of psilocybin in people whose chronic depression had not responded to repeated attempts at treatment with medication suggested that this may be the case. While the trial, co-directed by Amanda Feilding, who founded the Beckley Foundation, was designed to determine only if the drug was safe, all of the study participants said at a one-week follow-up that they saw a significant decrease in symptoms. The majority said at a follow-up three months later that they continued to see a decrease in symptoms.

"We treated people who'd been suffering for 30 years, and they're getting better with a single dose," said Nutt, who was one of the authors of the study. "So that tells us this drug is doing something profound."

Killing the ego

Between 1954 and 1960, the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond gave thousands of alcoholics LSD.

It was part of an experimental treatment regimen aimed at helping them recover. Osmond thought that the acid would mimic some of the symptoms of delirium tremens, a psychotic condition common in chronic alcoholics who stop drinking that can involve tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation. Osmond thought the experience might shock the alcoholics, who had failed to respond to any other treatments, into not drinking again.

He was wrong.

Rather than terrifying his patients with an extreme case of shakes and hallucinations, Osmond found that the acid appeared to produce positive, long-lasting changes in their personalities. Something about the LSD appeared to help the suffering alcoholics "reorganize their personalities and reorganize their lives," Michael Bogenschutz, an NYU psychiatrist, said at a conference on therapeutic psychedelics last year.

A year later, 40 to 45% of Osmond's patients said they had not returned to drinking — a higher success rate than any other existing treatment for alcoholism.

In an interview with the Harvard psychiatrist John Halpern, Abram Hoffer, a biochemist and colleague of Osmond's, said: "Many of them didn't have a terrible experience. In fact, they had a rather interesting experience."

While some say the trip is interesting, others have called it "spiritual," "mystical," or even "religious."

Scientists still can't say for sure what goes on in the brain during a trip that appears to produce these types of experiences. We know that part of it is about the tamping down of certain circuits and the ramping up of others.





One circuit that seems to go quiet while tripping is the connection between the parahippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex. This network is thought to play a key role in our
sense of self, or ego.

Deflating the ego is far from the soul-crushing disappointment it sounds like. Instead, it appears to make people feel more connected to the people and environment around them.

Carhart-Harris, who conducted the first study of its kind to take images of a healthy brain on LSD, said in a news release that his findings support that idea.

In a person not on a drug, specific parts of the brain light up with activity depending on what they're doing. If they're focused on reading something, the visual cortex sparkles with action. If they're listening carefully to someone, their auditory cortex is particularly active. Under the influence of LSD, the activity isn't as neatly segregated.

"The separateness of these networks breaks down, and instead you see a more integrated or unified brain," Carhart-Harris said.

That change might help explain why the drug produces an altered state of consciousness, too. Just as the invisible walls between once segregated tasks are broken down, the barriers between the sense of self and the feeling of interconnection with one's environment appear to dissolve.

"The normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of reconnection with themselves, others, and the natural world," said Carhart-Harris.

Because two of the characteristics of mental illnesses like depression and alcoholism are isolation and loneliness, this newfound interconnection could act as a powerful antidote.

"It's kind of like getting out of a cave. You can see the light, and you can stay in the light," Nutt said. "You've been liberated."

A spiritual experience

Humans have a long history of looking to "spiritual experiences" to treat mental illness — and of using psychedelics to help bring about such experiences.

Ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic beverage brewed from the macerated and boiled vines of the Banisteriopsis caapi (yage) plant and the Psychotria viridis (chacruna) leaf, has been used for centuries as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Its name is a combination of the Quechua words "aya," which can be loosely translated to "spirit," and "waska," or "woody vine."

Europeans first encountered ayahuasca in the 1500s, when Christian missionaries traveling through Amazonia from Spain and Portugal saw indigenous people using it. (The missionaries called it the work of the devil.)

It's now understood that ayahuasca has a similar effect on the brain as magic mushrooms or acid. Yet unlike magic mushrooms, whose main psychoactive ingredient is psilocybin, ayahuasca's effects come from mixing the drug dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, from the chacruna plant, and the MAO inhibitor from the yage plant, which allows the DMT to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

In the early 1950s, the writer William Burroughs traveled through South America looking for the yage plant, hoping to use it to help cure opiate addiction. Some 15 years earlier, a man suffering in a ward for alcoholics in New York had a transformative experience on the hallucinogen belladonna.

"The effect was instant, electric. Suddenly my room blazed with an incredibly white light," he wrote.

Shortly after that, the man, William Wilson, founded the 12-step recovery program Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson later experimented with LSD and said he believed the drug could help alcoholics achieve one of the central tenets of AA: acceptance of "a power greater than ourselves."

Nevertheless, ayahuasca, LSD, and other hallucinogens were slow to gain notoriety across Europe and North America. They saw a temporary surge in popularity in the US in the 1960s, with people like Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert writing about the "ego loss" produced by magic mushrooms as part of their Harvard Psilocybin Project.

But in 1966, the government outlawed psychedelics— and most experimentation, along with research into their potential medicinal properties, came to a screeching halt.





Meanwhile, scientists have experimented with the drugs in whatever capacity they can.

Bogenschutz has spent years studying the effects of a single dose of psychedelics on addicts. He's found that in most cases, studies suggest the hallucinogens can improve mood; decrease anxiety; increase motivation; change personality, beliefs, and values; and, most importantly, decrease cravings. But how?

"One of the big questions was how would a single use produce lasting behavior change?" he said in 2014. "Because if this is going to produce any lasting effect, there have to be consistent changes."

Based on several small pilot studies that he's helped conduct, Bogenschutz hypothesizes that the drugs affect addicts in two ways, which he breaks down into acute (short-term) effects and secondary (longer-term) effects.

In the short term, psychedelics affect our serotonin receptors, the brain's main mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Next, they affect our glutamate receptors, which appear to produce the so-called transformative experiences and psychological insight that people experience on the drugs.

"This is the most rewarding work I've ever done," Bogenschutz said. "To see these kinds of experiences ... it's just not as easy to get there with psychotherapy."

Staying in the light

From the time she was born, Clark Martin's daughter and her father had a difficult relationship. Martin and his partner never married, but they loved their child and divided their time with her as best they could.

Still, Martin couldn't help but feel as though their time together was consistently strained. For one thing, the spontaneity that's so vital to many relationships was absent. He always knew when their time together started and when it was coming to an end.

"You're not having as much everyday experience," Martin said. "Instead, you're having kind of a planned experience. And that affects the depth of the relationship, I think."

Martin felt similarly about his father, who had developed Alzheimer's several years before. Martin would visit him when he could, but whenever they were together, Martin felt compelled to try to push the visit into the confines of what he thought a "normal" father-son interaction should be. He'd try to make their discussions mirror the ones they would have had before his father became ill.

"I kept trying to have 'normal' conversations with him," Martin said.

About three hours into his psilocybin trip at Johns Hopkins, Martin recalled a memory of his teenage daughter.

He said he "had been so focused on pursuing my own ideas about what was best for her, trying to be the architect of her life," that he had let that get in the way of making sure she knew how much he loved and cared about her.

One afternoon about a year after the trip, Martin drove out to visit his father. This time, Martin took him for a drive.

"He always loved farming and ranching, and we'd just get in the car and spend hours driving along," Martin said.

As they drove, rolling, green hills sped past them. His father looked out at the lush horizon with awe, as if he were seeing it for the first time. The crisp, blue sky. The soft blanket of grass.

All of a sudden, Martin's father saw something. He gestured out the window, but Martin saw nothing — just grass and trees and sky. Then something moved in the distance.

There, in the middle of two emerald hills, a deer cocked its head up.

"It was miles away," Martin said. "I would have completely missed it."

https://www.businessinsider.com/psychedelics-depression-anxiety-alcoholism-mental-illness-2017-1?utm_source=intl&utm_medium=ingest
 
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mr peabody

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CBD treatment for anxiety disorders


Esther Blessing, Maria Steenkamp, Jorge Manzanares, Charles Marmar

Cannabidiol (CBD), a Cannabis sativa constituent, is a pharmacologically broad-spectrum drug that in recent years has drawn increasing interest as a treatment for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. The purpose of the current review is to determine CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders, by assessing evidence from preclinical, human experimental, clinical, and epidemiological studies. We found that existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely; however, few studies have investigated chronic CBD dosing. Likewise, evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD, but is currently limited to acute dosing, also with few studies in clinical populations. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.

Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD, with a notable lack of anxiogenic effects. CBD’s anxiolytic actions appear to depend upon CB1Rs and 5-HT1ARs in several brain regions; however, investigation of additional receptor actions may reveal further mechanisms. Human experimental findings support preclinical findings, and also suggest a lack of anxiogenic effects, minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile. Current preclinical and human findings mostly involve acute CBD dosing in healthy subjects, so further studies are required to establish whether chronic dosing of CBD has similar effects in relevant clinical populations. Overall, this review emphasizes the potential value and need for further study of CBD in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
 
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mr peabody

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Are psychedelics the new Prozac?

Psychedelics aren't usually associated with peak mental stability. But if recent research is any indication, psychedelics may soon follow cannabis' lead into medical legitimacy,
thanks to their ability to soothe hard-to-treat psychiatric conditions.

In her recent book, Blue Dreams, author and former clinical psychologist Lauren Slater dives deep into a series of studies to explain how psychedelics are being tested to treat PTSD, anxiety, addiction, depression, and autism, as well as to assist late-stage cancer patients in accepting the end of life. Scientists and doctors have been studying the medical uses of these drugs for decades, but only recently has their research become more serious and conclusive.

"There will come a time, probably sooner than later, when these drugs are legalized," Slater says. "It is amazing how well they really work." In fact, Slater predicts that the FDA will approve MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD by 2021, which is promising news for people suffering from that debilitating condition.

"Your brain functions with less constraint while on these types of drugs. This openness of interaction and connections is what helps patients have these breakthroughs," said Slater.

In one recent study that Slater describes in her book, MDMA was given to PTSD patients and the findings were overwhelmingly positive. "Patients with severe PTSD actually recovered," Slater explains. "Before the MDMA treatments, these patients were devastated by their past and unable to function. But after being given the drug, they were able to talk freely about their experiences, and once the MDMA wore off, they no longer felt nearly as much trauma."

https://www.wellandgood.com/

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After witnessing the death of my 34 year old husband and another man in a violent accident, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I participated in the MAPS MDMA/PTSD study and it saved my life. My PTSD kept me from grieving, which kept me from moving forward in my life. I participated in the Boulder MAPS study in 2014 and I am finally experiencing the life saving progress everyone told me was possible.

-anon

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I was prescribed many medications to treat my PTSD symptoms, but none of the treatments helped me. My diagnosis developed into treatment-resistant PTSD and I began to drink extremely heavily and smoke upwards of two packs of cigarettes a day. I found out about the study conducted by MAPS and I applied to participate. I was accepted to the study and I saw a profound difference in my symptoms after the first treatment. After only 3 sessions of therapy with MDMA, I no longer qualified for a diagnosis of PTSD. Now that I have recovered from PTSD, I am able to lead a happy and productive life again. I can enjoy my beautiful relationship with the love of my life and my friends and family. It is my personal goal to spread awareness about research into this treatment method so that veterans and others suffering from traumatic events can also experience life without PTSD in the near future.

http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/...1#post14328181


 
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