Therapy is — irrevocably — a logistical and emotional hellscape to endure. According to Mental Health America, 21% of adults are experiencing a mental illness. Followed by the other sobering statistic that 55% of adults with a mental illness receive no treatment. Equivalent to 28 million individuals. In all, mental health is not a linear process. Improvements are sorely needed, and we must be explorative in our treatment options.
Psychedelic therapy, for example, is becoming increasingly popular alternative to the traditional therapeutic approach of antidepressants. Two of the most well-known substances used in psychedelic medicine are magic mushrooms (i.e. shrooms, mushrooms) and ketamine.
While accessibility to both these substances remains in the hands of lawmakers. A growing body of evidence points to psychedelics as a potential treatment for mental health disorders, addiction and other conditions.
Although research is still in its early stages, ketamine and magic mushrooms has shown the most promising results. And may soon lead to psychedelic-assisted therapy becoming an option for patients.
Let’s take a closer look at both.
Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic and dissociative drug, used for decades in medical settings. In a therapeutic setting, ketamine improves depression more quickly than traditional antidepressants. Typically, ketamine therapy works best for individuals who have tried all other therapies.
How It Works
Ketamine works by binding to receptors in the brain that produce a chemical called glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, a “chemical messenger” between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Research suggests that glutamate plays an important role in depression. Problems in the production of glutamate has been linked to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc. Ketamine works to opens up these glutamate pathways, unlike antidepressants which work on serotonin & norepinephrine pathways.
Ketamine is shown to be effective for:
- Major depressive disorder
- Treatment-resistant depression
- Alcohol dependence
Ketamine is administered by registered medical practitioners. Patients can expect their first session to be done within a safe and quiet environment, such as private room. During treatment, doctors will monitor all vitals and aid in any discomfort. Ketamine’s effects can make a patient feel happy or disconnected from reality. This sensation occurs as the medication works in the brain to alleviate depression.
- IV Ketamine Infusion
- Intramuscular (IM)
Classified as a controlled substance, there are strict regulations around ketamine and its use. Which can limit access to treatment. Always talk to your primary care physician before seeking treatment. Check for insurance coverage as well.
Microdosing mushrooms involves taking a low dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, on a regular basis. Psilocybin therapy is a relatively new therapeutic approach. But it is finding its foothold in the treatment of depressive disorders.
How it works
As mentioned before, psilocybin is the hallucinogenic compound found in mushrooms. In the case of microdosing however, the administration of doses are low enough to not produce a whole-body effect (i.e. “tripping”) yet high enough for a cellular response.
Microdosing aims to achieve the positive effects of the substance (better focus, elevated mood, elevated energy, and emotional balance) while avoiding all the negatives (hallucinations, sensory shifts, nausea).
Compared to ketamine, the procedure is fairly straightforward . Administered via pill, a microdose is typically 1/10 to 1/20 of a normal dose, or 10 to 20 micrograms. Microdosers follow a “one day on, two days off” procedure.
Microdosing is shown to effective for:
- Substance use disorders
- Eating disorders