Our mental health is deteriorating
More and more people are seeking help as anxiety, depression, and suicide are on the rise in 2021.
According to a recent study, prescription fills for depression and anxiety peaked in 2020 as 63% of people with existing depression and anxiety said their symptoms had gotten worse. The study also showed that between 18-25% of people were unable to fill their prescriptions due to cost or availability.
Of the respondents that were taking a prescription for depression and/or anxiety, almost a quarter reported that they had altered the quantity, strength, or type of an existing medication due to the pandemic. These regimen changes included trying out a different antidepressant, or going on higher or lower dosages. Almost a quarter of people with a regimen change also reported that they started a new prescription for depression/anxiety management, and 20% reported that they stopped taking a prescription due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An even larger study done by the CDC produced similar results.
In the second quarter of 2020 Increasing levels of mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation were approximately three times higher than those reported in the second quarter of 2019.
Overall, 40.9% of 5,470 respondents who completed surveys during June reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including those who reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), those with TSRD symptoms related to COVID-19 (26.3%), those who reported having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%), and those who reported having seriously considered suicide in the preceding 30 days (10.7%).
Psychedelics post COVID
Even before COVID, these issues were plaguing society, but now the clock is ticking even faster and companies are adapting to the changing landscape.
Companies solely focused on the medical side of this sector like Mindset Pharma (MSET.CN), Cybin (CYBN.NE), Compass Pathways (CMPS.N), and MindMed (MMED.NE) could see their studies and clinical trials happen quicker than expected.
Afflictions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD to name a few aren’t going away any time soon. Even after a full COVID recovery, the aftershock will be felt for years, maybe even decades.
Just as my psychiatrist has many unknowns about my condition, psychedelics also come with several unknowns.
Mindset Pharma is going to attempt to make psychedelic drugs more predictable, with fewer side effects. I like this idea as someone who has had several rather horrifying drug experiences.
The idea of psychedelics being scary is still a pervasive theory in mainstream society. In order for mass adoption to occur, more research will need to be done into the benefits of these drugs, as well as washing away old fear-based stereotypes that plagued this sector for decades.
The ‘he took LSD and jumped out of a window’ trope is going away, but for mostly older generations these marketing campaigns were super effective and are still in the mainstream cultural psyche, unfortunately.
While these tropes are not useful, psychedelics are not a 100% slam dunk either. There are legitimate challenges like screening for patients who have a family history of schizophrenia, or people with PTSD being fearful of an intense undertaking like ingesting psychedelics for the very first time.
In his groundbreaking 2014 book ‘The Body Keeps The Score’, Bessel Van Der Kolk says,
Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become experts at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from themselves.
Drugs like mushrooms often have excess compounds outside of psilocybin that can interfere with the body, and thus the trip. Mindset believes that if they can clean these drugs up and create a more consistent experience for the patients, the results will be even more attractive.
New & fresh psychedelics
Mindset is going the route of patenting new drugs, as the classics have already been taken. They will be creating their own safer and more predictable versions of the well-known drugs, thus owning the potentially high-value IP. Mindset already has 50 patents filed for drug compounds.
They are also working on starting animal testing for three families of psilocybin inspired drugs.
If companies like Mindset can make psychedelics safer and more consistent, it’s likely that more and more people who could benefit from these therapies will be open to it.
With large research and credible research institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins producing incredible findings on the benefits of psychedelics as therapies, the sector is getting more legitimate by the day. That being said, there is still room for improvement.
Removing as many unknowns as possible from the drugs and the administrative processes will greatly help in legitimizing these therapies for a broader population who want to go deeper into their psyche for healing purposes, or simply take a new approach.