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In addition to the immediate and profound health challenges of the global pandemic, many countries have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses in recent years. In the UK, prescriptions for antidepressants have more than doubled over the past decade.

This huge demand has given rise to research opportunities on all kinds of possible treatments for mental illnesses and for mental illnesses. Robin Carhart-Harris it has meant groundbreaking investigations into the possible therapeutic uses of psychedelics and other controlled substances. The psychotropic properties of drugs such as ecstasy, LSD, and magic mushrooms are well known, but their usefulness in medicine has so far not been subjected to rigorous medical testing. The first results are encouraging. Robin tells Rachel Humphreys how he led work showing how psilocybin (or magic mushrooms) can be used to help psychotherapy for difficult-to-treat depression, making a significant difference where conventional antidepressants and talk therapy haven’t .

In the United States, Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin for medical use last November. Dr. Rachel Yehuda is director of the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. She has been researching PTSD since the late 1980s and recently obtained FDA approval to conduct stage 3 trials using MDMA as a treatment. She tells Rachel that if her trial results continue to go well, we may see treatments come to market in the years to come.



Ecstasy, LSD and magic mushrooms: are these drugs the future of therapy?  |  New

Illustration: Frieda Ruh / The Guardian

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