For millions of Americans, symptoms associated with mental health disorders often result in impaired activities of daily living. For some, the symptoms may be of such severity so as to require inpatient admission for psychiatric evaluation and treatment. For one such group of mental health sufferers, the use of hallucinogens has come to the forefront of psychological research where it once was in the mid part of the 20th century. For patients suffering from complex, untreatable Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the use of hallucinogens, specifically, the use of psilocybin found in some species of mushrooms, is becoming increasingly common. So what, exactly, is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is a psychiatric condition which affects millions of Americans at some point during the life span. Characterized by a unique, uncontrollable obsession to avoid or do something repeatedly, without thought, is a common plight of this mental health sufferer. Through scientific research, it has been determined OCD may be attributed to a defect in the production, maintenance or inhibition of serotonin. As a result, patients who suffer from OCD will commonly exhibit complications associated with other forms of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and even delusions, often leading to suicidal tendencies.
Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, has, historically, involved the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors commonly used in depressed patients; for example, Prozac. For some OCD patients, however, the use of Prozac and other serotonin reuptake inhibitors have not proven effective, even when collaborated with cognitive behavioral therapy. As a result, researchers in psychiatric medicine have turned to a once commonly used therapeutic approach involving the biological component of mushrooms known as psilocybin.
Psilocybin, found in mushrooms, is a habit forming hallucinogen which has shown promising results, in past research as well as current research, in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Psilocybin, while successful, does provide for a significant degree of side effects, including dizziness, vomiting, headaches and hypersensitive reflexes. For patients prescribed large doses of psilocybin, the effects of this drug use may lead to hallucinations, and a lack of accurate cognitive ability and perception. As a result, psilocybin, in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is commonly limited to complex OCD cases requiring the patient to be hospitalized for an undetermined length of time.
Another area of concern, in the regulation and use of psilocybin treatment of OCD, lies in the tendency of the depressed OCD patient to consume alcohol or other illicit drugs. As a result, the use of psilocybin must be closely monitored as, historically, the use of this prescribed drug with alcohol, may provide for significant health complications, both medically, leading to liver disorder, and psychologically. Additionally, because psilocybin is processed in the liver, the prolonged use of the prescribed drug, in the treatment of OCD, may be contraindicated where significant mental health improvement is not exhibited by the OCD patient.
Because psilocybin was once used in the mid part of the 20th century, with adverse social impact, the continued use of the hallucinogen drug has been regarded as neither a social or medical norm. However, when caring for an OCD patient who may not be responding well to traditional serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac, and fails to respond to cognitive behavioral therapy, the use of psilocybin, a biological component of mushrooms, may be the next best alternative.