In healthcare technology news, scientists have been testing how LSD may serve well as a treatment for depression and anxiety. In fact, LSD was created in 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who was trying to create a blood stimulant. Instead, he quickly discovered the hallucinogenic effects.
A few years later, psychiatrists started experimenting with LSD as a treatment for depression. Experiments continued until 1967 when LSD became illegal. Recently, international scientists have decided to take another look.
A team of German researchers had volunteers interact with a virtual human in five different scenarios. The results showed that those on LSD instead of a placebo had a harder time paying attention and recognizing the virtual human as a person. They also found that those on LSD had less brain activity in the areas that help with self-perception and communication.
The experiment then proved that the same brain alterations can be found in those with depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Those with depression tend to have increased self-awareness while those with schizophrenia have the opposite problem.
When the volunteers took both LSD and a drug that blocks serotonin 2A (a neurotransmitter) receptor, they were able to focus the same way they were with the placebo. This means that in theory, the drug that blocks serotonin 2A may help improve schizophrenic symptoms. Additionally, combining LSD or a similar drug with the serotonin blocker may help those with depression or anxiety disorders stay focused.
Another study showed similar effects in psilocybin, the chemical found in “magic mushrooms.”
We can’t discuss this topic without considering the harmful effects of LSD and mushrooms. Yes, they may work to cure symptoms of mental disorders, but at what cost? These experiments had small sample sizes and were conducted on volunteers who were considered “healthy.” We don’t know for sure how a person with existing mental disorders would handle these drugs.
Mental disorders and mixed drugs aside, LSD is toxic. Though it is not necessarily addictive, it is possible to become tolerant to the drug. Someone who is gaining tolerance to the side effects of LSD will usually feel the need to take more of the drug to experience its full effects, making the repercussions that much more dangerous. Plus, some people only need to use LSD once to face lifetime side effects, especially flashbacks and increased risk of mental illness. Some LSD users have even reported having psychotic episodes years after taking the drug. That’s why the idea of using LSD as a treatment option needs to be carefully considered before it is tested on a schizophrenic volunteer.
Long-term LSD use has proven physical effects as well. Long-term users often suffer from heart failure and overheating or hypothermia, not to mention the harm that can come from being under the drug’s influence and making poor decisions.
The idea of using LSD as a treatment for mental disorders comes with a lot of unanswered questions – questions that may be too dangerous to truly test in a safe environment. However, there is a chance that we will see the medical use of LSD in our future. Who knows? One day, you may be selling prescription drug plans that include LSD on the formulary!