In time Sophie took MDMA for the first time at my mental health clinic, she was willing to try anything. Now in her late fifties, Sophie (not her real name) has struggled for most of her life. post-traumatic stress disorder, suffers from insomnia, hypervigilance, and flashbacks of the abuse he experienced when he was a child. Over the years, she has learned to manage the worst of her symptoms with the help of psychotherapy and medications-tools that have helped raise her two children and run a successful business as a CPA – but childhood memories still haunt him. They stood without warning, terrifying to his senses. About 30 years after he first sought treatment, his hopes for relief were growing, even if it meant enrolling in a clinical trial for a drug that was more frequent with Burning Man than mental health.
I also became desperate. For the better part of four decades, my psychiatric colleagues and I battled PTSD — along with depression, anxiety, and other chronic mental illnesses — with not enough to show for of it. As a young physician in the 1980s, the launch of Prozac appeared to offer promise in a new era of trauma treatment. Brain, we are told, can be healed by correcting biochemistry. But the promise of that time will never be fulfilled. Even if some patients get better over time, many seem to get lost in a monthly shuffle to and from the psychiatric office to refill or transfer medications, which is most seem to not work, at least not for long. As someone who goes into the profession to help heal mental wounds, I always feel trapped in a destructive and destructive cycle. Even with more effort, the worst consequence of our profession, suicide, continues to rise. In 30 years from medicine revolution to begin with, psychiatry may be the only medical field that has lost ground in diseases.
As far as MDMA, perhaps. Always combined with LSD, psilocybin, and other drugs now enjoying a renaissance in mental health, MDMA is not really a true psychedelic, as it does not distort vision or self-perception. However, the compound releases several important neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin (the social-bonding hormone released while breastfeeding), which help reduce activity in the brain’s fear center, the amygdala, which promotes a sense of empathy. This is one of the reasons why medicine is often associated with raves and festivals. In a clinical setting, combined with the presence of a therapist, medication provides patients with a calm and openness that can be soothing. While traditional medications such as SSRIs and benzodiazepines mostly work by suppressing symptoms, MDMA acts like traditional talk therapy, but with amplification, which helps patients recover from traumas under symptoms. Bathed in the increasing potency of the drug, afflicted patients like Sophie can begin the process of coping and, hopefully moving forward with traumas that would otherwise be unattended.
Sophie’s treatment of a major international study offers new evidence for this hypothesis. Sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and conducted in 15 different venues, including mine, this study showed that only three sessions of MDMA treatment could lower a patient’s PTSD score from severe to severe. slow. Earlier findings like this prompted the FDA to name the appointment “Breakthrough Therapy” in 2017. Results from the current Phase III study that Sophie was a part of, published last year week of Natural Medicine, suggest even more consistent and significant clinical outcomes in the treatment of severe PTSD. “MDMA-assisted therapy has the potential to significantly change the clinical practice of psychiatry,” I and my colleagues concluded. A recent study published in Psychopharmacology also reported that, in addition to relieving symptoms, MDMA can do what some other psychiatric treatments can: strengthen what they call “post-traumatic growth-a person’s sense of well-being. the intrapersonal, social, and / or spiritual quality of life. ” In other words, the cure HEALING people
To begin her treatment, I gave Sophie two capsules of MDMA, after which I helped her slip through eyeshades and headphones to encourage her to confront any images, associations, or emotions brought on by the medication. Because the effects of the drug can be confusing or severe, I stayed close. Within about an hour, Sophie announced that she was in a hut, the place where she first started beating her father. She was smiling on her bed, she said, when her alcoholic father suddenly slammed her. As a result of the blow, he fell to the ground causing him to lose bladder control and quickly turn black. He has also written this scene hundreds of times, but where the images once felt overwhelming and chaotic, in medicine they now feel safe to explore. He described a strange relief that would come to him. Where raw terror engulfed him, he could now describe this event clearly and in depth of vision.