Psychedelics are Transforming Mental Healthcare
A Brief History of Mental Healthcare
Mental health has evolved and is seen as a relatively progressive topic that has developed over the years as we have learned more about how the brain functions. In the earliest years of mental illness recognition, it was categorized as a religious or a personal issue. However, in the 19th century the term “mental hygiene” spread in the medical field, which finally put an official term on emotional and behavioral struggles. Disorders we now commonly discuss were initially written off as hysteria, shell shock, psychosis, and, in some cases, demonic possession. It wasn’t until the 20th century that doctors and society as a whole started to acknowledge and treat these mental health conditions. The first major breakthroughs in the development of effective psychiatric drugs came in the years following the Second World War and expanded their use for decades to come.
The now widely understood industry that affects 1 in 5 Americans has vastly grown by mitigating stigma and developing medicine; newer generations are even seeking an alternative to the typical SSRI. Recent studies have found that Psilocybin, the compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, may be a treatment comparable to the standard antidepressant. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that participants given a full dose of Psilocybin as well as psychotherapy showed significantly larger reductions in suicidality, anhedonia (a lack of the ability to feel pleasure), and standard psychological scores for depression known as the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) compared to the group that was given a daily antidepressant.
The Conditions Being Treated by Psychedelics
Psychedelics have been known to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, and even extreme cases of PTSD. Anxiety affects over 40 million people in the United States and is categorized by traits including excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Common causes include, but are not limited to, major life changes. Work stress, a change in living arrangements, pregnancy, loss, and abuse of any kind can all be causes of anxiety, but studies have also shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition towards anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety include irritability, intense fear, worry, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of being on-edge. Symptoms can even become physical with muscle tension, trembling, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, and chills. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), only about 30% of people with anxiety disorders receive proper treatment. With new options of medical treatment outside of SSRIs, PsyBio hopes to increase that percentage.
Depression refers to a psychiatric illness that is categorized by at least 5-9 common symptoms, one being either an overwhelming sadness or a loss of interest in things that one once enjoyed. Recent studies estimate that over 15% of the American population will experience depression at some point in their lives. People who have gone through adverse life events are more likely to experience depression. Depression can then lead to more dysfunction which can worsen said circumstances. Depression is heterogeneous, meaning it will be experienced differently by different people and have diverse causes.
The symptoms of depression are vast, but they tend to span five areas of functioning: emotional, behavioral, cognitive, physical, and motivational. To find out more about symptoms and patterns of depression, please visit the World Health Organization. To learn more about how to recognize depression and how to treat it, visit the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) to listen to their webinar on the topic.
Top Companies in the Psychedelic Treatment Industry
Many organizers of psychedelic research are part of a larger effort to diversify the world of psychedelic healing. They are actively pushing back on the narrative that originated regarding psychedelics in mid-century countercultural movements and fighting to ensure that the new field of psychedelic medicine will be easily accessible to all.
Here is a glance at 5 companies working toward transforming this rapidly growing and transformational industry:
PsyBio Therapeutics Corp. | TSXV: PSYB ; OTCQB: PSYBF | Market cap: 35.975M
PsyBio Therapeutics Corp. (“PsyBio”) is creating a portfolio of unique, scientifically developed, psychoactive compounds as potential therapeutic agents for mental and neurologic health issues. This portfolio contains over 80 molecules derived from the genetics of hallucinogenic plants and fungi. PsyBio’s main objective is patenting its unique bacterial biosynthesis process that creates these molecules.
Atai Life Sciences | NASDAQ: ATAI | Market cap: 1.95B
Atai Life Sciences (“atai”) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company using a model focused on accessibility, education, and sustainability. By looking at the gaps in psychedelic treatment research, atai is able to offer a variety of treatments through its programs that target unmet needs in the mental health sphere, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.
Compass Pathways | NASDAQ: CMPS | Market cap: 1.3B
Compass Pathways (“COMPASS”) is a company committed to broadening therapies available to individuals in Europe and North America with treatment-resistant depression. Its main initiative, which is in late-stage clinical development, is using its own synthesized formulation of psilocybin, COMP 360, to treat these individuals.
Mind Medicine, Inc. | NASDAQ: MNMD | Market cap: 923.796M
Mind Medicine, Inc. (“Mind Medicine”) is focused on the treatment of addiction, anxiety, and adult ADHD using guided psychedelic therapies and psychedelic-inspired medicines. Mind Medicine also distinguishes itself by its dual focus on research and development, partnering with leading figures in the field.
Cybin Inc. | NEO: CYBN | Market cap: 293.34M
Cybin Inc. (“Cybin”) is a biopharmaceutical company using a three-pronged approach to psychedelic therapies: patient-focused treatment, accessibility, and support for underserved communities. Cybin is leading the industry with its development programs and focuses on the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders.