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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Are Psychedelics The Future Of Mental Health Care? One Vogue Writer Conducts A Personal Investigation

This download is part of integration, another cornerstone of modern psychedelic medicine. “The goal is to take advantage of the neuroplastic state, which lasts for about a week after dosing,” explains Beynon. “You want the changes in your brain to stick, so the question becomes, ‘How do you turn these new thoughts into new behaviours?’” For me, this entailed finding ways to get back in touch with that dollhouse sense of play.

Easier said than done. My ketamine experiences were clarifying and often even profound, but they didn’t change certain nerve-racking facts of life, such as that I write for a living and thus have deadlines to meet if I wish to pay my bills. Or that it’s hard – like, really hard – to stay motivated in the midst of a global pandemic, when each day brings fresh spurs to panic and depression. “There’s a huge mental health crisis happening parallel to, and in response to, this pandemic,” notes Benjamin Brody, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, and chief of the Division of Inpatient Psychiatry at the university hospital, where ketamine infusions are typically administered. “People who are grieving, people who have lost jobs, people who are feeling disconnected, whose lives have been upended .…” With demand for care rising “across the board”, as Brody notes, it’s no surprise that psychiatrists such as Amanda Itzkoff, MD, are seeing a huge uptick in inquiries about ketamine therapy. But it may or may not be the right tool for every job, Itzkoff points out.

“The thing is, if you got laid off and you don’t know how you’re going to pay rent, ketamine won’t change that,” says Itzkoff, an early adopter who has been providing ketamine infusions at her Manhattan practice since 2014. “It doesn’t remove the external pressures. But when you’ve got someone with severe depression, who has kind of given up, then there’s real promise in this treatment.” Itzkoff cites the example of a former patient, a high-powered attorney and mother of two, who was on disability and “almost catatonic” when they began working together. “She had to be retrieved from this state,” recalls Itzkoff. “By breaking the negative thought loop – even temporarily – you show someone it’s possible to feel another way. And that,” she adds, “can be channeled toward getting people back on their feet.”

Chad Kuske didn’t just get back on his feet following his first psilocybin treatment a year and a half ago; he experienced what he calls an immediate and profound “sense of meaning and a desire to live”. A former Navy SEAL, Kuske, 40, had tried psychoanalysis and various pharmaceuticals before being medically retired from the service in 2017. Reentering civilian life, he found himself using drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the anxiety, depression, and alienation that he now comprehends as the symptoms of PTSD. “Nothing else had worked. And I knew that sooner or later, if I kept doing things the same way, my life would be over – either literally or metaphorically, like I’d wind up in jail,” Kuske explains. “The mushrooms helped me see my situation clearly: I was in hell, but it was a hell of my own creation, and I could make the choice whether to stay there and suffer or leave and start the work of changing.”

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