PTSD is fascinating in that two people can have identical experiences, one can largely forget the experience while the other is in for a lifetime of suffering.
What causes this difference comes down to a person’s wiring which can be traced back to the early attachment styles of the parents, and even as far back as the mother’s level of stress during pregnancy. So while PTSD can be somewhat mysterious, it offers a special opportunity for healing in therapy as many of the debilitating after-effects of PTSD are learned behaviors. The past events can’t change, but the way those events are processed can – and that’s the first step to healing. Someone with PTSD reacting to a trigger isn’t running a logical calculation in their head, they are rather than driven by hyperarousal in certain areas of the brain leading to what’s commonly known as the’ fight or flight mode.’ Mother nature intended this kind of energy to be reserved for dangerous circumstances – like working a 20-hour medical shift during a pandemic.
Cybin (CYBN.NE) is partnering up with the University of Washington to launch a psychedelic-assisted therapy study for COVID19 frontline clinicians in Seattle, Washington. Seattle was hit particularly hard in the early days of the pandemic as it was one of the first major outbreaks in North America. The study will aim to treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, burnout, and PTSD among frontline doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals. During the COVID19 pandemic, there was have been wide reports of an increase in suicide, anxiety, and depression in the general population. And it makes sense that frontline workers were hit even harder than the general population as there was no escaping it. For most of us, we could just turn off the TV, even in lockdowns, and still, be somewhat removed. Frontline workers didn’t have that luxury. They were expected to be on the job, ready to literally save the world.
Underneath PTSD, anxiety and depression there is almost always trauma. Unfortunately, modern medicine typically only treats the symptoms. One of the most exciting things about the psychedelics industry is actually getting to the root cause of the problem. This can hopefully bypass unneeded medications which have greatly contributed to the current opioid crisis as they are highly addictive. These medications become a defense mechanism against dealing with past traumas or the current reality. In Dr. Stephen Porges’ book ‘The Polyvagal Theory’ he states, “there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ response; there are only adaptive responses.” Traumatized people are more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol according to the 1990 ACE Study which correlated traumatic events in childhood with things like suicide, smoking, addiction, domestic violence, etc. Cybin also recently announced its focus on treating alcoholism with psilocybin-assisted therapy.
The images of people taking their last breaths, the mourning families, the sounds of the overcrowded hospital, this could be enough to create long-lasting traumatic memories. Maybe they were on what was known in the media as ‘death panels’ essentially choosing who lives and who dies. In areas like Seattle where beds and equipment were limited, tough decisions had to be made. A frontline clinician could also have previous traumatic experiences that were triggered when in an extremely stressful environment like a pandemic. This can lead to issues in relationships, work performance, and self-esteem.
PTSD is based on traumatic experiences, whether they happened one singular time like a car accident, or over a longer period of time like witnessing the horrors of a pandemic face to face. A new subtype of PTSD known as C-PTSD (complex PTSD) was developed to describe repeated traumatic experiences over a period of time, as opposed to a car accident. The distinction becomes important during therapy as they can manifest in different ways. Repeated trauma can become more internalized and personalized, especially if the person has faulty wiring from childhood.
Two front-line workers putting in the same hours in the same hospital will process the experience in a completely different way. This isn’t a unique phenomenon. There are some homicide detectives who once they get home never discuss their work, and there are others who lose sleep at night and get into fights with their family over their work.
With this study, Cybin is also introducing its EMBARK therapy model. EMBARK was designed as a transdiagnostic psychotherapy model that can be adapted to address a range of clinical indications and populations.
“Our nation’s doctors, nurses, and clinicians have been shouldering the burden of COVID-19 by taking care of the sickest among us. They’re experiencing high levels of anxiety, depression, and burnout. Now it’s our turn to help them,” – Dr. Alex Belser, Cybin
In a sector where companies sometimes put out similar press releases, this is an innovative move that shows Cybin is on the pulse of what’s happening. It’s already got a partnership with futuristic tech company Kernel who are making non-invasive technology to one day rival Elon’s Nueralink. Cybin is willing to think outside of the box and try new things, while also having the fundamentals down like diversified drug discovery programs, tight share structure, experienced management with a proven ability to raise stacks of capital. Cybin has turned the volume up on itself better than anyone. In 2019 every conversation reverted back to Compass (CMPS.Q) or MindMed (MYMD.Q) within minutes, Cybin has made the right moves in a short period of time to be a big fish just like those guys.
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