Is it possible that LSD, the hallucinogenic drug from the sixties, could be used to treat depression? Apparently there are studies popping up around the world that say “yes.” Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/therapy-it-s-more-just-talk/201701/the-lysergic-acid-solution-depression says “A case report of one like this does not make for scientific proof. But LSD worked for her.”
So it seems to be working in at least some cases, but how? What is going on in these studies? Are people simply taking LSD and claiming that it helps their depression?
Apparently not. What is happened is that people have experimented with something called “micro-dosing,” which involves taking a comparatively small amount of LSD. Apparently this is enough to give the person a new perspective on life without any major side effects or huge addictive potential.
It is helping people to process their thoughts, to process their anxiety. Vogue http://www.vogue.com/13520387/microdosing-lsd-risks-benefits-mindfulness-depression-ayelet-waldman/ said that “You have emotion, then a thought, then an impulse to act, and then an action. What the microdosing allowed me to do is open up and have space between these components.”
So it is teaching people who have anxiety, who react badly to negative situations, to pause and figure out how to be calm and not just react to things. So in a sense you are given more of a chance to choose your emotions, rather than to simply feel something immediately and then blame those feelings on the situation that caused them.
Taking LSD, even in a microdosing capacity, helps you to separate out the ego from yourself. So instead of saying “This bad thing happened and as a result I am upset,” you can look at the same sort of situation and see how that situation is simply what exists, and therefore your reaction to it is uniquely your own, and it is all up to you as far as interpretation goes. And apparently microdosing has allowed people with depression the ability to step back and get a new perspective on life.
It is interesting that such a taboo drug like LSD is apparently going to have such a high medicinal value in the world of mental health now. The same thing might also be happening concurrently with MDMA, which is currently in trials to help treat severe PTSD in a way that is really quite a breakthrough. The fact that these substances have been so vilified in the past is startling, given the impressive results that psychologists are getting with them in these studies today.
At the same time, it is important to realize that a person should definitely not try to self medicate using any street drug, including LSD or MDMA. You have to understand that the science behind microdosing is very precise, and therefore you cannot expect to replicate these results outside of a clinical setting.
In other words, do not expect to wander down to your local college campus, score some illegal acid, and suddenly be able to cure your depression. This is not realistic or recommended in any way. What is promising though is that this could very well be developed as a real medical treatment, to be administered in a clinical setting at some point in the near future.
If you are struggling with depression then there is a good chance that you are susceptible to addiction issues as well. Many people who have depression end up self medicating at some point in their lives. Some fall into alcoholism, which is unfortunate because while being intoxicated seems to help the depression at first, in the long run it only makes the situation much worse. Pouring a depressant onto depression is not helpful.
Self medicating with other drugs is not generally helpful either. The only thing that truly works is to take positive action and get professional help, then to follow through consistently with the help that you are given. If you happen to be struggling with an addiction issue alongside of your depression then this could pose many challenges. My recommendation would be to start by going to an inpatient treatment center, get detoxed from all addictive drugs and alcohol, and then make a serious attempt at recovery while also treating your depression with a real professional.
In other words, you have to treat any mental health issues that you have, including depression, alongside of your addiction. You cannot treat just one or the other independently and expect for it to work out well.
Think of it this way: The biggest threat to your addiction recovery may very well be your mental health. And the biggest threat of your mental health and well being may, in fact, be your sobriety. So therefore you cannot treat just one of those problems in isolation. You must treat them both concurrently.
Doing this can be quite a challenge. My suggestion is to start at an inpatient treatment center for substance abuse, and then connect to resources for mental health from there, possibly as part of your aftercare instructions. You should be proactive about treating both your addiction as well as your mental health condition.
What does it mean to be proactive in terms of treating these conditions? For starters, you would, for example, attend AA or NA meetings every day in order to be proactive about preventing relapse. You might also start exercising and doing therapy every week in order to keep your mental health in check.
In other words, you do not want to just wait for problems to pop up in your recovery journey, and then have to scramble and react to those problems. Instead, you should be proactively preventing certain problems from ever occurring.
How do you do this? One way is by taking the advice and suggestions of others, from your peers in recovery, from people who have successfully walked your path already. Those are the people who distinctly know what challenges you are facing because they have faced those same challenges themselves in the past. In order to succeed in early recovery you are going to have to take some advice and suggestions from other people. Without taking suggestions and advice you will be left with the same old behavior patterns that have not led you to a place that you wanted in the past. In order to get different results you have to try something new, and that “something new” must come as a suggestion from other people.
Again, the solution is not to run right out tomorrow and find LSD in order to fix your depression. But realize that new treatments are emerging, we are learning more and more about treating both mental health and addiction every day, and we need to stay open minded about new solutions that are emerging.