Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Psychedelic Renaissance

Credit: agsandrew/Adobe

Credit: agsandrew/Adobe

By Martin Williams & Melissa Warner

Recent studies are finding that psychedelic medicines are effective treatments for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Mental health statistics are sobering to read: 45% of Australians will experience a serious mental health illness in their lifetime, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people in Australia, and mental illness is predicted to become the leading cause of disability and disease worldwide by 2020. Awareness, education and better therapeutic solutions are required if we are to alleviate both the suffering of individuals and the burden of mental health disease on society.

To understand the problem, let’s investigate the origin. The 100 trillion neural connections mapping each of our brains form a unique neuronal tapestry of learned meaning created by experience and reinforced by self-narration. Neuronal paths that are frequently activated, by repetitive thoughts or behaviours, steadily become stronger.

But the mind’s automated adaptivity can go awry in mental illness, caging sufferers in rigid patterns of thought and behaviour. This is particularly insidious in instances of early trauma, where storylines tend to be relived throughout life. How can we best support patients with mental illness to regain agency and reorient their life path?

Recent research has shown that psychedelics, in combination with psychotherapy, can reduce suicidality, ease end of life anxiety, and offer a road out of both depression and addiction, all with as few as one...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.