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Researchers are working with animal models to answer questions about the therapeutic actions of psychedelic compounds. Credit: Neuroscience News

Unraveling Psychedelics’ Potential in Mental Health

Summary: Research delves into the potential of psychedelics like psilocybin for treating psychiatric disorders. Studies show varying effects of psilocybin on fear learning in rats and mice, dependent on sex and dosage, and its potential to alleviate nicotine withdrawal in mice.

This emerging field, buoyed by recent FDA recognition of psychedelics as breakthrough drugs for depression and PTSD, seeks to unravel the compounds’ therapeutic mechanisms and optimal patient profiles.

These findings represent crucial steps in understanding how these compounds can be effectively and safely used in psychiatric treatments.

Key Facts:

  1. Psilocybin treatment exhibited gender-specific effects on fear extinction learning in rats and mice, with dosage playing a key role.
  2. In a mouse model, psilocybin reduced signs of physical withdrawal from nicotine addiction.
  3. This research, supported by agencies like the NIH, is vital for developing psychedelics as targeted treatments for various psychiatric disorders.

Source: SfN

Psychedelic compounds such as psilocybin, a substance found in various mushroom species, are garnering more research support as novel treatments for psychiatric disorders, but questions remain concerning who they may help the most.

The findings will be presented on Tuesday, November 14, 1–2 p.m. at Neuroscience 2023, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Psychiatric disorders, including phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance use disorder, represent a major public health issue. Current behavioral and pharmacological treatments have limited efficacy for some individuals.

Researchers are looking to novel therapeutic approaches, including the use of psychedelic compounds. Interest in psychedelic treatments is growing; the US Food and Drug Administration has recently given breakthrough drug status to some psychedelic compounds for the treatment of depression and PTSD.

However, the underlying biological mechanisms of these substances — and which patients and conditions could benefit from them — are still largely unknown. Researchers are working with animal models to answer questions about the therapeutic actions of psychedelic compounds.

New findings show that:

  • Psilocybin treatment had opposite effects on fear extinction learning in male and female rats (Phillip Zoladz, Ohio Northern University)
  • Psychedelics including psilocybin and DMT may have different effects on fear learning dependent on dose and sex in mice (John Razidlo, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
  • Psilocybin treatment reduced signs of physical withdrawal in a mouse model of nicotine addiction (Belle Buzzi, Virginia Commonwealth University)

“Studies suggest that certain psychedelic compounds show promise for treating a range of psychiatric disorders,” says Frederick Barrett, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness, who studies the mechanisms underlying the effects of psychedelic drugs.

“The research presented today is crucial in understanding what factors may influence the efficacy of these compounds, including sex, dose, and timing of administration.”

Funding: This research was supported by national funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health and private funding organizations.

About this mental health and psychopharmacology research news

Author: Dina Radtke
Source: SfN
Contact: Dina Radtke – SfN
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: The findings will be presented at Neuroscience 2023

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