Saturday, January 06, 2024

Psychedelics and PTSD in Soldiers

Nature news has this interesting story about using psychedelic drugs to enhance the emotional resilience of soldiers to blunt the trauma of conflict. A sample from the report on the study (published in Nature Medicine):

The researchers found that one month after treatment, participants had average reductions of 88% in PTSD symptoms, 87% in depression symptoms and 81% in anxiety symptoms. On average, participants had mild-to-moderate disability before treatment and no disability one month after treatment, as assessed by a survey about their cognition, mobility and other functions.

None of the participants experienced cardiac side effects. The study is a “proof of concept” that proper screening and administration can lower the risk of harmful side effects, Steenkamp says. Williams and his colleagues are now looking to study whether the drug can confer a long-term benefit and are using neuroimaging and biomarkers to assess how the drug works.

The news item notes that the study builds on mice research into expanding the neural plasticity period of the brain. Ethics must keep up with science. I addressed these issues in this book chapter. This topic raises many interesting issues in ethics and psychology.