The march toward effective medical treatments for some of the most crippling and serious mental illnesses shows heartening signs of gathering pace. However, it’s worth considering just how far humanity has come in our collective appreciation of the severity these disorders have on those sufferers.
Yes, the days of platitudes like “pull yourself together” and “get a grip” are very much numbered, and as scientific research into the area starts to yield ever more marked and potentially valuable results, there is hope looming on the horizon that medicine could once again come to the rescue of those most needy.
Many would argue that medical research into mental illness is still significantly underweighted in comparison to the vast reach of such afflictions. Indeed, it was only recently that reports emerged from the scientific community suggesting that a preventative vaccine intended to enhance individuals with a mental robustness with which to combat any potential mental side-effects that come with finding oneself in harrowing situations had been successful in a study carried out on mice. Rebecca Brachman is the neuroscientist behind the research, and there are strong hopes that her success will be replicated in human trials, due to be conducted next year.
Now, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looks to have also joined the march to combat the considerably hampering effects of PTSD on war veterans.
After several years of delays, the FDA has ultimately approved a medical marijuana trial for war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Tonic, for Vice, reports that enrolment for the trial commenced in February, and just last month the research team found their last participant for the 12 strong study, which will aim to measure the effectiveness of medical marijuana in helping to manage the symptoms of PTSD. The drug is not being considered as a cure-all treatment for the condition.
It is thought that, of the veterans that served on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000’s, as many as 11 to 20 percent of them are suffering with PTSD. Those figures are believed to be similar to those who served in the Vietnam War; many organisations believe that medical marijuana could be a valuable source of treatment for these veterans, though until now the evidence for this has been largely anecdotal. Advocates will hope that the new FDA-approved research will change that.
Tonic reports that the status of marijuana as Schedule 1, classed as being of “no acceptable medical use” means that veterans in some states are at risk of losing their disability payments if they choose to self-medicate the drug.
Erstwhile, a separate FDA-approved study, from researcher Elena Argento will attempt to establish whether psychedelics could be useful as a remedy for several mental illnesses. It is thought that drugs like MDMA could be used to treat disorders such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.