Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of Washington are conducting a clinical trial to treat depressed medical professionals using psychedelics. This comes at a time when healthcare professionals in the United States are seeking ways to deal with the emotional and mental anguish brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey conducted last year that involved more than 20,000 health care workers found that 49% suffered from burnout as a result of the pandemic while another 38% revealed that they had experienced depression or anxiety. Another report from Morning Consult has also highlighted that more than one-half of health workers felt that their mental health had gotten worse during the pandemic.
The team of researchers, led by Anthony Back, a physician, will administer doses of synthetic psilocybin to the workers in an attempt to learn whether the drug, when used alongside psychotherapy, could decrease mental anguish. The research is based on evidence from other clinical trials of psilocybin that have used the substance to treat major depressive disorder and anxiety, as well as alcohol use disorder.
The team’s move to use a psychedelic drug as treatment signals growing acceptance and curiosity of the drug among those involved in the sector.
For their clinical trial, the researchers plan to recruit 30 healthcare workers who report moderate to severe depression associated with the pandemic. Each participant in the trial will undergo a pair of psychotherapy sessions before they are administered with a placebo or psilocybin during a six-hour session with two therapists. After this initial session, three more psychotherapy sessions are scheduled.
Insights and data from questionnaires and interviews will help researchers understand the effect of the drug on the mind frame of the participants. It should be noted that the use of psilocybin bears a certain risk. For instance, users may experience heightened anxiety and a worsening of mood. In extreme cases, some users experience psychotic symptoms.
Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatry professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, notes that individuals with risk factors shouldn’t consume the drug, adding that those who will receive the drug need to undergo screening.
Back has already received approval from the FDA and the DEA as well as other relevant authorities to conduct the trial. Despite the numerous studies that have discovered the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, the drug still remains classified as a Schedule I drug. This means that the federal government believes that the drug has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
That view is set to change when firms such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) get their psychedelic formulations under development finally approved by agencies such as the FDA for use in the treatment of various psychiatric indications.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (NYSE American: CYBN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CYBN
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