The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Psychedelic therapy offers an alternative to anti-depressants

Rei Baxter
A digital drawing depicts how psychedelics help “give color” or heal one’s mind.

Psychedelics, while long since banned, make their way to the medical market for critically unmet needs for mental health.

Psychedelics are a class of psychoactive substances that produce changes in perception, mood, and cognitive processes. Psychedelic therapy has shown to be very efficient in helping treat various mental health conditions and works as an alternative to some prescription medication.

The first-ever clinical trial for psychedelic therapy was approved by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2015. Since then, more clinical trials have been approved while others continue to make their way to the final stages of approval.

There are quite a few current medications that are already prescribed to those with mental health issues.

“When I took my medication on the first trial, I had headaches and was really tired because I didn’t know what dosage I needed. But, after we found the right dose, I had virtually no side effects,” said Olivia Baum, a Carlmont sophomore.

Oftentimes, anti-depressants take a toll on a person.

*Grace Smith’s mother was previously on medication to treat her PTSD and depression, but she experienced side effects.

“Sometimes, mom didn’t want to get up or she would become really lethargic and fatigued,” Smith said.

Contrary to previous disputes, current research and trials prove that psychedelics are an effective alternative to traditional medicine. For example, Psilocybin (magic mushrooms), connects very well with serotonin receptors.

However, while psychedelics and hallucinogens are nothing new in the environment, they are for use in the medical field.

“It’s just such a nascent space that is hard to invest in psychedelic-focused companies,” said Gloria Tang, a Biotech investment banker for Evercore. “For a lot of investors, they don’t feel like they have the necessary experience in a certain field or the comfort of pointing to valuations of a few well-established publicly traded companies.”

These challenges for investors appear to be more of an issue for psychedelic treatment.

“The experience has been psychedelics is actually, on a relative basis, a lot more effective. And so I think there is a huge unmet need in terms of psychedelics use on mental health,” Tang said.

Yet, limited as it is, there are existing spaces where psychedelics can be used to treat mental illnesses.

Contrary to the other methods of medicine consumption, psychedelics are given in a controlled environment.

While researching psychedelic medication, Smith found a therapy office where her mom would be administered a safe dose of magic mushrooms by a qualified therapist and would be guided during the session.

“I didn’t know what the session would involve, I just knew that there would be a connection, somebody to hold her hand and talk to her,” Smith said.

Smith could recall the first time her mom went to this therapy session.

“I remember pulling up to pick her up and I looked at her and she just looked like there was a peace about her,” Smith said. “I was always thinking throughout the day whether she would wake up in the morning and say, oh what a waste of my time. But she didn’t. She woke up and she was still at peace.” 

However, psychedelic treatment is more in-depth than taking drugs for recreational purposes.

“It’s not that you go in, has a magical session, and then you’re just going to walk through rainbows and everything will be ok,” Smith said. “Mom still has work to do.”

The therapist gave Smith’s mom multiple tasks to do outside of the psychedelic therapy sessions, including daily meditation and journaling.

“She spends time in nature, and she walks outside and makes sure she connects with just herself and her purpose,” Smith added. 

Whether taking psychedelics or traditional anti-depressants, it is important to get treatment to improve mental health.

Anytime we feel likes something is not allowing us to live our full existence, we should have the right to find that existence. We need to help and prioritize ourselves

— Grace Smith

“When I didn’t have my anti-depressants, I wouldn’t be living, I would just be surviving,” Baum said. “Taking them has done wonders for me to actually enjoy life and not be sucked into everything and myself all the time. It’s really eye-opening.”

The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 ceased all development into hallucinations and psychedelics. Until recently, anti-depressants were the only prescribable drug available. Since anti-depressants can cause side effects in many people, they were unable to get the aid they needed.

However, recently companies have started to research more into developing these drugs. The companies ATAI Life Sciences and COMPASS Pathways are already in their 2nd and 3rd phases for Psilocybin treatment for Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anorexia.

“Anytime we feel like something is not allowing us to live our full existence, we should have the right to find that existence. We need to help and prioritize ourselves,” Smith said.

*This name has been changed by the writer in accordance with Scot Scoop’s anonymous sourcing policy.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
About the Contributor
Rei Baxter, Staff Writer
Rei Baxter is a Junior at Carlmont High School and a staff writer for Scot Scoop. They love the arts, music, writing, and science. They hope to contribute more to the community this year. To check out their journalism portfolio, click here.

Comments (0)

We invite comments and responses to our content. Comments that are deemed appropriate and relevant will be published.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Psychedelic therapy offers an alternative to anti-depressants