Tag: psychosis

AotD: Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study

Article of the Day:

Psychedelics and Mental Health: A Population Study

by Krebs, T. S., & Johansen, P-Ø. (2013)

(PLoS ONE, 8(8), e63972. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0063972)

Background

Psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin-containing mushrooms, DMT-containing brews (ayahuasca), mescaline-containing cacti, ibogaine-containing roots and seeds with LSA, have been used for religious, shamanistic, divination and healing purposes by various cultures for thousands of years. Since the 1960s especially, the use of psychedelics, most commonly lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), psilocybin and mescaline, has also been relatively widespread in the “Western” world for various purposes, including recreational, spiritual and religious uses.

Much research into the potential therapeutic uses of (some) psychedelics was carried out in the 1950s and 1960s, but due to political, legislative and other reasons, a long hiatus followed. In recent years, starting with DMT studies in the 1990s, and over the last 5-10 years in particular, there has been increasing renewed interest in such uses. In light of this renewed interest, research over the safety of these substances appears of great importance.

It is known that the “classic” serotonergic psychedelics, that is, LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, are physically very safe substances, non-addictive, and do not lead to violence or other major social problems in the way some psychoactive substances do. When considering the possible risks of these substances, the main concern has focused on potential mental health effects, in particular on possible links to long-term psychotic, phobic or PTSD-like symptoms. Psychedelics can indeed elicit very intense experiences in their users, often positive and even ecstatic or rapturous but sometimes negative and terrifying. In light of these extreme effects, and some (though limited) similarities in states produced by psychedelic use and those experienced during mental illness, it is not surprising that many have wondered about the connections between psychedelic use and mental health, and some case reports of long-term mental problems following psychedelic use exist.

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AotD: Mindfulness interventions for psychosis: A meta-analysis

Article of the Day:

Mindfulness interventions for psychosis: A meta-analysis

by Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Gaudiano, B.A., & Paquin, K. (2013)

(Schizophrenia Research, 150(1). 176–184. )

Background & Research

Among the so-called Third Wave of cognitive-behavioural therapies, mindfulness-based approaches have garnered great interest in recent years, within clinical psychology as well as among the more general public. Definitions of “mindfulness” vary, but it is generally understood to refer to non-judgmental and non-reactive awareness, observation and acceptance of all inner experiences, the centering of attention and experience to the here and now, and in most cases, cultivating an attitude of kindness or (loving) compassion. In terms of interventions based on mindfulness, their unifying goal is to learn to willingly embrace and accept present experiences in the moment, both pleasant and unpleasant, without avoiding, suppressing or clinging on to them.

As regards psychosis, developing mindfulness skills could be helpful for alleviating the distress and suffering related to psychotic symptoms, instead of attempting to control them. Individuals might be able to change their ways of responding and ascribing meaning to the symptoms as they appear, regarding them as transient experiences that do not define one as a person or necessarily reflect reality. The symptoms or sensations are likely to remain unpleasant, but by promoting acceptance of them and their transient nature, individuals may reclaim power over themselves better than by attempting to fight, correct or counteract the symptoms.  Continue Reading…

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