Recent discoveries have shown psychedelics to possess many benefits, some of which are known and others that are yet to be discovered. Among those that are known is the discovery that psilocybin can be used to treat depression. Psilocybin, sometimes dubbed magic mushrooms, also helps manage alcohol addiction.
Research has shown that when psilocybin therapy is administered to a patient who has depression, it can take months for mild symptoms to reappear again. Over time however, if the therapy isn’t re-administered, the symptoms slowly return.
Many governments across the globe have documented various illegal drugs, and in many countries, psychedelics are in that group. This distinction relegates the substance to be sold I back-street channels and other not-so safe environments. Thankfully, this has slowly been changing as more and more research comes to light regarding the potential benefits of various drugs such as cannabis, LSD and psilocybin. However, we still have long way to go. More research is needed before many psychedelics can be approved as medical treatments.
So what can someone suffering from depression do — especially someone who has tried everything else and is in dire need of help? To begin with, they can visit Synthesis, which is a psychedelic wellness retreat in the Netherlands that has been offering psilocybin therapy to clients since 2018.
Psilocybin truffles, which are similar to magic mushrooms, are legal in the Netherlands. The co-founder of the retreat, Martijn Schirp, explained that the company initially did not accept visitors who had depression because their staff wasn’t qualified to provide mental health therapy. That has changed, however. Working in collaboration with Rosalind Watts, a clinical psychologist at Imperial College London, the retreat is now qualified to accept people with depression.
Watts, who is also the lead of the Psilocybin Depression trial, was hired by Synthesis. The therapy the company offers is a 13-month course that includes a five-day retreat with two psilocybin sessions and monthly group therapy. Individuals who enroll will pay approximately $10,000 for treatment. Synthesis also plans to accept one person among every eight paying people into the treatment program free of charge.
However, there are ethical concerns about providing treatment to individuals with depression before the treatment has been proven to be effective and safe. Despite psilocybin studies being in the advanced stages of research, they are yet to be approved for widespread use. Some individuals question why scientists would offer the unproven treatment at the facility if researchers are still working on various trials to identify the efficacy and safety of psilocybin.
Watts explains that the risk of suicide because of inadequate treatments for depression is much greater than suicide risk from psilocybin therapy. Additionally, the program will not be accepting any individual with a first degree relative or personal history of bipolar disorder, psychosis or schizophrenia, or whose primary care doctor or psychiatrist has advised against the treatment.
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