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Psychedelics Down Under: The Newest Revelation for Mental Health

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announces the first use of the psychedelic drugs MDMA and Psilocybin in the treatment of conditions such as PTSD and Depression.

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When we think of psychedelic drugs, the first thought that comes to mind may not be picking them up from the local doctor’s office - however, the recent turn of events as announced by the Australian TGA may just change that thought process.

How has this occurred?

Over the course of many years, the drugs 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (more easily pronounced as MDMA), and Psilocybin (the chemical compound found in “magic mushrooms''), have endured several stages of testing with the resulting consequence being approval for medicinal use. Upon the safe testing on a small number of volunteer participants, the pharmaceuticals-to-be were later tested on a wider variety of volunteers to determine their effectiveness and appropriate dosage. This process can take up to years to ensure safe production and prescription, and was originally initiated in the 1970’s before testing was forced to cease through criminalisation (as stated by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation). These years of work however will hopefully have paid off very soon for those living with conditions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and treatment resistant Depression.

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How do these drug treatments differ from the kinds currently in use?

The type of drug known as psychedelics are renowned for their properties which can cause the taker to experience visual and auditory hallucinations. The likelihood of this experience actually occurring however, is often embellished, as the taker is more likely to experience alterations in emotion, thought, and perception. This provides benefits through enhancing a state of being which can leave takers susceptible to unpacking trauma in a more positive mindset with a qualified psychiatrist. It has been noted also that psychedelics have the potential to stimulate the healthy regrowth of neurons in the brain. This is supported by de Vos, Mason and Kuypers in their 2021 study:

“Findings from the current review demonstrate that psychedelics induce molecular and cellular adaptations related to neuroplasticity”.

There have been several indications that this positive development in the pharmaceutical sphere has been a long time coming. In a mass review of studies into the subject, researchers AlFardan, Rose, Siddig, and Yousif found their results to be in favour of the treatment also, as participants across a variety of trials found positive effects from a safe psychedelic dosage. However, there are of course concerns regarding their introduction to psychiatry. The limitations of psychiatric use as highlighted in a debate by the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, include the risk of a bad trip. This phenomenon consists of having a negative, “anxiety-inducing” or even traumatising experience through taking the medication whilst in a pessimistic or stressful mindset. The sensation has been described as akin to “a feeling of losing oneself or going crazy, or ego dissolution”. Though these apparent risks of the treatment may be managed though guidance of the psychiatrist at hand, the future of this area of treatment is unclear, yet positively forecast.


AlFardan, S., Rose, J., Siddig, M. & Yousif, A. (2023). International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience,Vol.25, No.3, pp 56-66 de Vos, C. M. H., Mason, N. L. and Kuypers, K. P. C. (2021). Psychedelics and Neuroplasticity: A Systematic Review Unraveling the Biological Underpinnings of Psychedelics. Frontiers in Psychiatry, Psychopathology, Vol. 12 Gashi, L., Sandberg, S., Pedersen, W. (2021). Making “bad trips” good: How users of psychedelics narratively transform challenging trips into valuable experiences. International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol 87, Pages 102997 Alcohol and Drug foundation: duce,the%20patient%20becoming%20overly%20anxious.

NYU Grossman School of Medicine debate: cal-ethics/education/high-school-bioethics-project/learning-scenarios/ptsd-treatment-psyched elics

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