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Published on May 4, 2024

Does It Make Sense to Treat Veterans Who Suffer From PTSD With Psychedelics?

An estimated 13 million people are diagnosed with PTSD each year according to recent medical reports. A significant percentage of those are veterans through the specific figures vary slightly from one source to the next. Post-traumatic stress disorder can have a profound impact on people’s lives, affecting the way they relate to other people as well as their jobs and their ability to carry out everyday activities. This condition can also cause people to lose interest in things that once brought them joy and lead them to become distant and isolated.

Treating PTSD

Several treatments have proven helpful for people who live with PTSD. For many of them, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy are extremely effective. In some cases, co-occurring conditions may need to be addressed as well. In situations where veterans with PTSD also suffer from alcohol abuse, alcohol rehab for veterans in combination with other treatments may be necessary.

Certain medications may aid in treating PTSD as well. Antidepressants are often prescribed for this condition, and they can greatly reduce its symptoms. Recently, psychedelic drugs, including psilocybin and MDMA, have also entered the mix. That being said many people question whether it’s wise to treat a mental disorder with psychedelics. According to many studies and clinical trials, these drugs show quite a bit of promise in helping people deal with PTSD.

Transcendental Experiences

For one, psychedelics are known for their ability to induce transcendental experiences. Essentially, these medications send people into a state of mind where they can more easily let go of themselves and their trauma and connect with the world around them. As mentioned, PTSD often interferes with a person’s ability to relate to and interact with others. They may retreat inside themselves, which increases the risks of isolation. If psychedelics can bring them out of that mental state and give them a new perspective, it could certainly be an effective component of PTSD treatment.

Mood Regulation

Psychedelics have also been found to help with mood regulation. They can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine. Those chemicals are known to affect people’s moods. They also influence emotions and alter the way people think. PTSD has been linked to imbalances in these essential neurotransmitters. By using psychedelic medications to regulate them, it may be possible to restore balance and combat the effects of PTSD.  

Beyond that factor, PTSD is caused by certain unusually stressful experiences. This condition can also cause heightened levels of stress. Stress causes increased levels of a hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, can cause a decrease in dopamine levels. Since psychedelics increase dopamine production and bring about transcendental experiences, they may counteract excessive stress and its resulting increase in cortisol levels to further reduce the symptoms of PTSD.

Promoting Neuroplasticity

Additionally, psychedelic drugs seem to promote neuroplasticity, which is essentially the brain’s ability to rewire itself. PTSD is associated with disruptions in certain neural pathways and brain functions. For example, it affects the brain’s ability to process fear and emotions as well as its ability to regulate mood. Because psychedelics foster neuroplasticity, they may help the brain overcome those disruptions. If so, they can potentially help people conquer PTSD.

Combating PTSD With Psychedelic Medications

Many people might question whether it truly makes sense to use psychedelics to treat veterans with PTSD. Several trials are showing promising results. In fact, quite a few patients have experienced significant reductions in their PTSD symptoms and severity through the use of psychedelics. They’ve also reported improvements in their outlook on life in general. Psychedelics shouldn’t be the only course of treatment for PTSD, and it’s not the best option for everyone who suffers from this condition. Still, there’s ample evidence to show that it may be an effective alternative for some.


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