While mental health issues are typically treated with talking therapies or antidepressants, neither are overnight fixes.
Yet a hallucinogenic drug is now being hailed as a cure for depression thanks to its abilities to ‘reset’ the brain’s fixed pathways and disrupt negative patterns to allow new ones.
The substance, named DMT, holds such power that its effects have been likened to ‘shaking a snow globe’ in the air so that new brain formations can resettle after the shake-up.
DMT, otherwise known as N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, is currently used recreationally as a psychedelic drug and also in shamanic rituals known as ayahuasca ceremonies.
Tourists flock to hotspots like Peru, Costa Rica and Brazil where these ceremonies take place to take the traditional Amazonian plant medicine said to bring spiritual enlightenment.
Now, it is coming to the UK.
During the trials, conducted by Small Pharma and Imperial College London, participants will be given the drug followed by complementary talking therapy to reflect on the experience.
Speaking about the breakthrough programme, Chief Scientific Officer of Small Pharma, Dr Carol Routledge, said she is confident the results will be instantaneous.
Dr Routledge told the Guardian: “We believe the impact will be almost immediate, and longer lasting than conventional antidepressants.”
She continued: “The psychedelic drug breaks up all of the ruminative thought processes in your brain, it literally undoes what has been done by either the stress you’ve been through or the depressive thoughts you have, and hugely increases the making of new connections.
“Then the psychotherapy session afterwards is the letting-things-settle piece of things, it helps you to make sense of those thoughts and puts you back on the right track.”
Dr Routledge and her colleagues believe that this his could be a treatment for a number of depressive disorders besides major depression, including PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly some types of substance abuse.
First-hand testimonials from people who have already tried DMT praise its power, with one user telling Dazed it has been a life-altering experience for her.
The user, named Martha, said: “I’ve been dealing with depression for as long as I can remember but with DMT I felt like my mind was free.
“With DMT I felt like I was really seeing the world. For the first time, I was thinking outside myself. That experience made me appreciate life more.”
In a world where depression is the predominant mental health issue globally, the power of DMT could be a game-changer.