Thursday, July 27, 2023

Mystical views about overcoming depression

JAMA article (one of whose co-authors is the current NIMH Director - see previous post) on the potential and challenges of using psychedelics in the therapeutics of depression notes that “it is clear that psychedelics are not wonder drugs”. As it also notes, approving their use could promote a booming psychedelic drug industry, in the same way as approving medical cannabis did for cannabis, despite lack of scientific evidence for therapeutic efficacy. Approved psychedelics, like cannabis, are likely to be used outside any licensed indications.

Is the mystical-type experience induced by psychedelics of benefit in depression? Any effects of psychedelics in depression may merely be due to the placebo effect. Participants in trials can usually tell if they have been given psychedelic vs placebo, so trials are not double-blind, which makes them biased.

If one of the most biomedical of journals can see the disadvantages and risks of approving psychedelics for depression, then surely this needs to be taken seriously. Trouble is that I doubt it will, if only to meet the wish-fulling phantasies of psychiatry and people in general about overcoming depression with medication.

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