A long term burden that many veterans carry is post-traumatic stress disorder. Events that occurred years before during their military service continually return and disrupt life in the present. All too often the depression and unending psychological trauma associated with this leads to the veteran taking his or her own life. At No Fallen Heroes we are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of veterans and specifically to preventing veteran suicide. In this regard we have become interested in the use of psychedelic medicines and how psychedelic medicine reduces PTSD-related fear response.
Psychedelic Medicines For Treatment of PTSD and Depression
One’s first though when this topic comes up might be to ask drugs commonly used at a rock concert to get “high” can do any good in helping something as deadly serious as veteran suicide. The first part of the answer is that when psychedelic drugs like psilocybin and MDMA are used in a therapeutic setting they are pharmaceutical grade which means they are given in the appropriate dosage and do not contain any of the potentially harmful ingredients commonly found in street drugs. They are also used in conjunction with treatment by a professional trained to deal with these conditions.
HOW PSYCHEDELIC MEDICINES HELP DEPRESSION AND PTSD
There is a small part of the brain that exerts a large degree of control over fearful and traumatic memories and situations. It is called the amygdala. The amygdala is a processing center for stimuli, memories, emotional responses, and social behaviors for virtually all parts of the brain. When people experience extremely traumatic events these experiences are passed through and essentially encoded by the amygdala and its nerve connections or wiring. This all too often causes a hyperresponsiveness to things in the present so that normal stimuli are seen as fearful or dangerous and all too often bring back enhanced, fear-laden memories from the past. These flashbacks are a basic part of the burden that veterans carry when they have PTSD. The veteran is not really living in the current world of civilian life but constantly has one foot back in the past with comrades dying and their own life in peril. How do psychedelic medicines help this?
Psilocybin Effects On Mood and Responses to Fearful Stimuli
Research has shown that by just taking a single dose of psilocybin the amygdala response to fearful and negative stimuli is reduced and that this reduction can last for up to a month with no other treatment or intervention. Negative mood (depression) is reduced. Positive mood (happiness) is increased. And, most importantly for treating PTSD and severe depression in veterans the accentuated processing by the amygdala that produces the exaggerated fear and vigilance responses seen in PTSD is blunted. This physiochemical process lasts for up to a month with just one pharmaceutical dose of psilocybin.
Using Psilocybin With Talk Therapy Helps In Treating PTSD and Severe Depression
Psychedelic medicines like psilocybin have a useful effect on the brain and specifically fear and stimulus processing in the fear control center, the amygdala. In treating severe depression and PTSD professionals use this blunting effect as a window of opportunity to let the veterans or anyone with these conditions to address the issues involved without their memories being totally overwhelming. Thus, a veteran can learn to discriminate between non-threatening events in the here and now and events in their traumatic past. When successful, this sorting out of thoughts, memories, and feelings lets the person suffering from PTSD and severe depression put the events of the past and the reality of the present in perspective. The past can be revisited without provoking an emotional meltdown. At that point the veteran can learn to take the lessons learned in the past and apply them successfully to civilian life in the present.
Helping Veterans Is What We Do At No Fallen Heroes
More than six thousand veterans commit suicide every year. That is more than one every hour. These are patriots who served our nation and have come home to return to civilian life. Unfortunately, too many come home with mental health issues related to their service, physical conditions like traumatic brain syndrome, and painful memories of traumatic events from which they suffer for a lifetime. At No Fallen Heroes we support any and all efforts to reduce the pain and suffering of our veterans and specifically to reduce and eliminate suicides by those who served and protected our nation.