Get Psilocybin Treatment (Yes, Magic Mushrooms) at PsychAtlanta for Depression and Anxiety!

So sorry to mislead you, but psilocybin (magic mushrooms) is not ready for prime time. I admit you were manipulated to read this blog, but so are the thousands of articles online that suggest that psilocybin is a safe and proven treatment for all kinds of psychiatric disorders. They imply psilocybin is ready to be given now if your mental health provider (psychiatrist, counselor, psychologist, or primary care) is hip and up-to-date enough to get you started. The hype of psilocybin treatment as a miracle cure has far out stripped the science -so far. A deep dive into the science will show you some small, promising studies for those suffering from end-of-life depression when diagnosed with terminal illness. Some research has shown it helpful as a psychotherapy tool when given to those with PTSD and undergoing psychotherapy while under the influence. There are some small studies in depression. One study showed it worked as well as Lexapro, an inexpensive, older antidepressant with a long track record of safety and effectiveness. It's hard to double blind with placebo for psilcybin. Who doesn't know when they are tripping? But bigger and better studies are being conducted now.

Yes, we are all looking for the magic, quick fix for mood, anxiety, PTSD, and other  mental health conditions and we can all agree traditional antidepressants have their limitations, including side effects and limited effectiveness in many who take them. Psilocybin, or some derivative of it, may just to be just that alternative. But right now there are too many concerns and questions. One, is it's illegal. So no doctor, even if they wanted to give it to you, can't write a prescription for it. And it will be a long time before they ever can. It is starting to be decriminalized in some counties in the US and parts of the world, but decriminalization doesn't mean legal. Second, we are nowhere near having the research to show that it is safe or effective, And if it is, for what and for whom? Any drug that comes from a plant in nature is complicated because where it is grown, how it is grown, when it is harvested, how it is stored, and how it is taken can all effect how much you get in your body and whether you are getting the right compound. Many plant based drugs, like marijuana, can have dozens or hundreds of psychoactive compounds that can cause serious physical and emotional problems and impact the drugs safety and effectiveness. Also, the other question beyond how do you take, in what form do take it, how often, and is it safe and effective is if it does work, how you keep it working?

We have that issue with Ketamine, which has proven to be a highly effective antidepressant but the effects wear off, very rapidly in some. If someone responds to ketamine, how do we keep it working? We are still figuring it out.

Sadly, government bias, prejudice against drugs of abuse as medical therapies, and public misunderstanding has delayed the research needed over the last 3 decades but all that is changed now. Maybe there is bias about these types of therapies for mental health verse physical illnesses. If psilocybin treated cancer, would there be fewer obstacles researching it? There is tremendous private sector money going into research into these compounds (mostly thanks to the wealthy, hip, young tech titans who are more open-minded to these therapies). 

But as an open minded, early treatment adopter, and psychiatrist and researcher who has seen the transformative benefits of ketamine and has treated hundreds of patients with that medication, my advice is wait. It's too risky now, We don't know if it could make certain patient's mental health worse or be dangerous with some medications, medical conditions, or supplements you are taking. If you're looking for treatment alternatives, stick with those  with a longer track record and are legal, such as medication combination therapies, off-label medicines that have been shown to be helpful, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), ketamine or Spravato, or natural supplements. Also, always make sure your lifestyle is conducive to good mental health such as healthy diet, exercise, stress reducing activites, spiritual growth, and/or supplements.

Just because you had a fun, mind blowing trip on LSD or psilocybin when you were younger (or recently) doesn't mean it's a good, safe treatment for a serious mental health problem.

But I'm as anxious as you are about how psilocybin and other psychedelic therapies may open the door to new treatment possibilities. And when its shown to be safe, effective, and legal, you'll hear from me first. 

Author
Michael Banov MD Dr. Banov is the medical director of Psych Atlanta, with locations in Marietta and Roswell, Georgia, and provides comprehensive outpatient psychiatric care for adult patients. Dr. Banov is triple-board certified in adult, adolescent, and addiction psychiatry as well as a certified clinical research investigator. Dr. Banov completed his Bachelor of Arts in Religion at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta. He completed his psychiatry residency at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Banov has conducted over 150 clinical research studies in all aspects of psychiatry, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He has written over 25 scientific papers and articles. Dr. Banov shares his experience and knowledge as an assistant clinical professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

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