Psilocybin Therapy on End of Life Anxiety & Palliative Care
Sometimes, it’s the psychological effects a terminal illness has on you that can even be more difficult to deal with than the illness itself. As a result, it’s pushed people to consider a lot of treatments, psilocybin therapy included. After all, knowing that you don’t have much time left is a serious thought to deal with.
To help deal with the problems brought about by terminal illnesses, be it the pain, the anxiety, or what have you, patients are given palliative care.
Palliative care is an approach to care that aims to improve a patient’s quality of life in the light of a terminal or life-threatening illness. This type of care takes a holistic approach. You can expect the person to have worrisome thoughts and emotions racing through their head.
These thoughts and emotions can progress further and bring about anxiety and depression, stress (and sometimes even PTSD), and anxiety.
The anxiety that a person with a terminal illness feels is primarily a result of knowing that their time will soon come. But, while they do know they’re going soon, they don’t know when it’ll exactly happen. This uncertainty of the future can contribute to anxiety.
Another contributor to this anxiety can also be the anticipation of their treatments and the pain it may cause, such as in cancer patients. All of these are what you can consider the end-of-life anxiety that accompanies terminal and life-threatening diseases.
Current Treatments of This Anxiety
To help combat the mental toll of a terminal diagnosis, the mainstays of treatment are medication and counseling or psychotherapy.
Medication involved giving the patients antidepressants or mood stabilizers, depending on what mental disorder arose in the patient. While this did help, the drug only worked for as long as it was still in the patient’s system. So, the effects weren’t as long-lasting for some people.
Counseling and psychotherapy aimed to help the patient adjust to their life knowing they have a terminal illness. No matter what the method was, it usually did involve trying to help the patient adjust how they saw themself and their life concerning their condition.
Coping mechanisms, finding meaning in their illness, looking back at their life, and moving forward are just ways this therapy would help the patient. However, while this did provide some help, this method has to build on the person’s willpower.
Because these treatments weren’t as effective for others, this prompted researchers to study alternative therapies to help these patients.
Mushroom Psychedelics: A New Found Hope
The search for alternative treatments brought about using psychedelic drugs to treat anxiety and other mental illnesses. At first, you wouldn’t think that psychedelics and death would go hand-in-hand, but several studies would beg to differ.
The NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Project results are a perfect example of how magic mushrooms and psychedelics could help.
The demographic for this study were cancer patients who were experiencing depression and anxiety due to their illnesses. Be it because of their treatment, knowing they had cancer, or because they knew that there was a chance that they could pass away, these patients were all experiencing some distress. In light of this, the psychedelic of choice in this cancer anxiety study was psilocybin.
The outcome of the study showed that there was a significant reduction of anxiety and depression in patients. This was an observation seen right after the session. Not only was there an immediate reduction, but this reduction was also sustained and even showed improvements.
Aside from reduced anxiety and depression, the patients were also seen to have reduced demoralization and hopelessness, another common experience in terminal illnesses.
These two also added to the psychological burden these patients had. After the sessions, patients felt less hopeless. To a point, they found meaning and satisfaction concerning their life.
While the exact science for these findings is yet to be studied, these can be attributed to the spiritual effects psilocybin has on people. It is known that taking these mushrooms would take you on a “trip.”
It is through this trip that you can take an introspective look at oneself. It allows you to tap into your consciousness and give you this experience where you’re allowed to explore.
You get to transcend your current state and reach a spiritual and sacred form of mine. So you have this mystical experience that allows you to view things differently.
This experience helps the patients see things differently, giving patients a depression breakthrough and even the abandonment of anxiety. New meanings are delivered to their situation, and items such as an appreciation of their life are unearthed.
Unlike treatment with medication, psychedelic drugs for anxiety leave lasting effects even after the session. This is because it helps change the way you see things. Combining this with end-of-life psychotherapy consequently improves the psychotherapy success rate in cancer anxiety treatment.
While the use of psychedelic drugs to help treat end-of-life anxiety has a long way to go, the findings are very promising. These can lead to more breakthroughs in finding which psychedelic is best for anxiety and the formulation of better palliative care anxiety medications.
Knowing that you’re nearing the end of your life is not a pleasant experience, but learning how to make it easier on people can do wonders for them as well as their families. That can make all the difference.