Psychedelics May Be Useful in Treatment of Postpartum Depression

October 14, 2022 12:26:53

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that women often develop soon after giving birth. It is a complex mix of emotional, physical and behavioral changes and affects roughly 15% of all new mothers.

Individuals with postpartum depression experience emotional highs and lows, fatigue, frequent crying, guilt and anxiety, which may make it hard for them to connect with and care for their babies. Other postpartum depression symptoms include feelings of inadequacy, an inability to feel pleasure, low mood, poor concentration and insomnia. Additionally, one in five women with this affliction also consider self-harm with others being plagued with thoughts of harming their babies.

Currently, this particular type of depression is treated using general adult depression therapy, which usually includes antidepressant medication and counseling. These drugs, which aren’t 100% effective when used to manage general depression, also don’t work for all individuals with postpartum depression.

While currently used antidepressants may help improve the mother’s mood, no evidence exists to show that the medications may also enhance bonding between mothers and their babies.

There may be alternative treatments in the near future, however, after a recently conducted review found that psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD may be useful in the treatment of postpartum depression by improving the relationship between a mother and their infant. Clinical trials have demonstrated that psilocybin, which has also shown promise in the treatment of depression in grown-ups, can be safely used in therapeutic environments alongside appropriate therapist support.

It has also become clear that this type of depression has some biological differences from general depression, which only highlights the need for more treatment options designed for postpartum depression specifically.

At the moment, the FDA has only approved an IV infusion known as brexanolone for the treatment of postpartum depression. The drug is known to rapidly improve suicidal thoughts and mood. Experts believe that psychedelics may be the answer to this because they stimulate receptors in the brain to foster a sense of self-compassion, openness and self-acceptance, which lasts for a couple of months. This experience may enable a mother suffering from postpartum depression to reconnect not only with themselves but also with their baby and the people around them.

Presently, the effect of psilocybin on postpartum depression hasn’t been examined in clinical trials. The primary concern when it comes to carrying out such trials is the lack of data on how this psychedelic can be safely administered to postpartum women, particularly during breastfeeding.

There’s much that needs to be scientifically documented about the benefits and likely risks associated with the use of psychedelics by different demographics, and hopefully the development work being done by publicly traded entities such as Atai Life Sciences Inc. N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) will give the world the much-needed answers about these substances.

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