Psychedelics are slated to disrupt psychiatry in a major way. Although there is limited research on the possible benefits of hallucinogenic drugs, recent studies have found that they can have significant mental health benefits. Researchers have discovered that when paired with psychotherapy, psychedelics can deliver profound benefits for people with mental health conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
Specifically these mental health benefits, especially against anxiety and depression, can come in handy for patients in palliative or end-of-life care. Receiving a terminal diagnosis often results in feelings of grief, anxiety and depression.
According to researchers from Baylor University Medical Center, up to 77% of individuals with terminal illnesses suffer from depression. However, most palliative care treatments focus on making the patients as physically comfortable as possible without addressing the mental and emotional pain they are dealing with.
Dr. Paul Thielking, chief science officer at Numinus Wellness, stated in a recent interview with Psychedelic Spotlight that the company incorporates emotional support and care into its palliative treatment program to address this issue. He noted that psychedelics can play a crucial role in palliative care, explaining that psychedelic-assisted therapy may be able to help patients shift their perspectives, cope with their emotions, adjust to and accept their new circumstances in the early stages of the disease.
As the condition of patients progresses, Thielking states that psychedelic-assisted therapy can help them deal with the existential dread and anxiety terminal illness that is usually associated with advanced terminal diseases. When asked if psychedelic treatments can be dangerous, especially for elderly patients who may have plenty of known and unknown medical conditions, Thielking explained that the potential benefits of psychedelic-assisted therapy, especially during palliative care, outweigh the potential risks.
He mentioned research on the use of psychedelic-assisted therapy for patients with cancer that dates back to the 1950s, stating that these studies found LSD and psilocybin-assisted therapy to be safe. Furthermore, Thielking added that Numinus Wellness has strict protocols that require close monitoring of palliative care patients during their treatment sessions.
The most common side effects of PAT so far have been a mild rise in blood pressure, heart rate and nausea.
Concerning psychedelics’ interactions with other drugs, Thielking said that patients who receive psychedelic-assisted therapy should avoid taking antidepressants and other medications that act on serotonin receptors. He also noted that patients who underwent psychedelic-assisted therapy had seen significant progress, with some even reporting profound changes in their mental and emotional state, including reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. It is therefore no wonder that startups such as Seelos Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SEEL) are undertaking drug-development programs aimed at exploiting some of these medicinal benefits of various psychedelic compounds.
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