Healing Mental Health
Psychedelics have been used throughout history for medical purposes. After going out of favour in the 1960s and 1970s, they have begun to return to the mainstream as rigorous clinical trials have demonstrated their potential as treatment for unmet needs in mental health.
What is Depression?
Depression is a prevalent mental health disorder that interferes with your thoughts, feelings, and ability to function in your day-to-day life. Depression causes pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness.
It’s different than feeling sad or experiencing grief. These feelings fade with time, while depression becomes more severe when left untreated.
What are the warning signs of depression?
Depression causes several disruptive and distressing symptoms, including:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair
- Lost interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Increased irritability
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Sleep disruptions (sleeping too much or too little)
- Changes in your appetite
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Body aches, headaches, or digestive problems
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that develops after experiencing a traumatic event, such as an active shooter situation, natural disaster, or military combat.
Everyone responds to trauma differently. While almost everyone experiences increased anxiety, intrusive memories, and other symptoms after a traumatic experience, these symptoms usually fade as time passes. On the other hand, PTSD emerges gradually and your symptoms intensify and become more disruptive as time passes.
What are the signs of PTSD?
PTSD causes four distinct categories of symptoms: intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors, negative thoughts, and heightened arousal.
Flashbacks and nightmares are two of the hallmark symptoms of PTSD. Your intrusive memories are so intense that you feel like you’re reliving the traumatic experience.
Many people with PTSD go out of their way to avoid people and places that trigger their memories and negative thoughts. For example, you might avoid driving past the site of an automobile collision or stay away from the people you were with during your traumatic experience.
You might have frequent negative thoughts and feelings about yourself or others, such as “no one can be trusted” or “I’m bad.” You might also live with persistent feelings of anger, horror, fear, or shame. Detachment from friends, family, or previously enjoyed activities is another sign of PTSD.
You might become increasingly irritable or have frequent angry outbursts. Reckless behavior, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors are common signs of PTSD. You might also have insomnia or be startled easily.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety includes a group of mental health conditions that cause intense, persistent, and disproportionate feelings of nervousness and fear. While everyone feels nervous occasionally, when you have an anxiety disorder, your worries are persistent and disruptive to your ability to function.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent type of anxiety. It causes intense and disruptive fears and worries about everyday life. For example, you might worry about your family’s health, your job, or taking care of routine chores like getting the oil in your car changed.
Other common types of anxiety include panic disorder, social anxiety, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.
What are the signs of Anxiety?
Anxiety causes various physical and mental symptoms that can progressively worsen and cause more significant disruptions to your life. Some of the common signs of anxiety include:
- Persistent and intrusive feelings of nervousness, fear, and doom
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Feeling out of control
- Increased irritability
- Reduced concentration
- Muscle tension
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling short of breath
If you have panic disorder, you have panic attacks. Panic attacks are often overwhelming, with intense physical symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain combined with a sense of impending doom and lost control.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes ongoing pain throughout the body. It’s characterized by numerous tender points all over the body and may have additional symptoms, such as:
- Muscle and joint stiffness
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Issues with thinking, concentrating, and memory
- Headaches, including migraines
- Numbness/tingling in the hands and feet
- Digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Fibromyalgia can cause widespread health issues that may be difficult to treat.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Current research suggests that it occurs when the pain sensors in the brain become overly sensitive or the brain’s way of processing pain signals becomes altered. In many cases, fibromyalgia may be triggered by a history of:
- Trauma, including car accidents
- Repetitive injuries
- Illnesses, including viral and bacterial infections
- A close family member with fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is most common in women, though men can be affected, too.
What is suicidal ideation?
While everyone has passing thoughts about death, suicidal ideation includes frequent ideas and plans for your own death. Having suicidal ideations doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to commit suicide. However, thinking of suicide and creating a plan indicates a high risk of suicide attempt and completion and should always be taken seriously.
What causes suicidal ideation?
Suicidal ideation is a symptom of several mental health conditions, including:
- Depression can often trigger suicidal ideation. When you feel sad, worthless, and hopeless, your thoughts are also negative and can turn toward death.
You can experience suicidal ideation during both depressive and manic episodes if you have bipolar disorder. While the despair of your depressive episodes can turn your thoughts toward death, during a manic episode you might feel like “you have it all worked out” and death is the answer.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD causes a variety of negative thoughts and feelings, as well as reckless and self-destructive tendencies, that can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Your risk of suicidal ideation is higher if you have a family history of mental health disorders or substance abuse. Poverty, neglect, and abuse can also increase your risk of suicidal thoughts.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic changes in an individual’s mood, energy level, and clear cognitive function. People with this condition experience highly energetic moods, known as mania, followed or preceded by indolent depression. These mood swings are expressively different than those experienced by the general population. The average age of onset is 25 years old, though it can occur in teens, and very uncommonly occurs in childhood. Often claimed as a faux condition by the public to validate inappropriate behavior, true bipolar disease features uncontrollable mood swings which may severely affect those suffering with the condition from experiencing normal lives.
What are the Warning Signs of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder presents as two distinct disease states:
- Mania and hypomania (increased disinhibition without the severe psychosis of mania) are two separate types of (high) bipolar episodes, though they have the same symptoms.
- Abnormally upbeat, jumpy, or wired
- Increased activity, energy, or agitation
- Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
- Poor decision-making — for example, going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks, or making foolish investments
- Major Depressive episodes are severe enough to interrupt life and daily activities as much as episodes of mania.
- Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
- Thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide
- Marked loss of interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities
- Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite
- Either insomnia or sleeping too much
- Either restlessness or slowed behavior
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
What is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety disorder causing unwanted thoughts, ideas, and obsessions which drive patients to perform repetitive behaviors, interfering with their daily lives. OCD may cause great suffering to patients and their families, as severe sufferers can spend up to 10 hours a day devoted to the compulsive habits of their obsessions. Psychiatrists have categorized four major types of OCD: contamination, taboo thoughts, the need for symmetry and arranging, and doubts of safety and feelings of danger.
The public often stereotype themselves as OCD when referring to needing a clean room or germ-free hands before eating. OCD cannot be diagnosed until it begins to interfere in the lives of patients and their loved ones, and interestingly, close to 40% of sufferers are hoarders.
What are the Warning Signs of OCD?
One of the best ways to understand OCD is to learn how obsessions and compulsions are linked. In many cases, compulsions are shaped by the nature of the obsessions. Compulsive washing, for example, is commonly performed in response to obsessive fears of contamination. Similarly, a fear of the house burning down may lead to excessive checking of the stove, oven, and iron.
What is Chronic Pain?
Pain plays an important role in our lives and the normal functioning of our bodies. A normal amount of pain is necessary for our bodies to protect themselves. Often, pain is the first sign we need to go to the doctor.
But sometimes our body’s ability to feel pain can begin to overreach, making everyday life difficult. But what exactly is happening when we begin to feel pain all the time?
Chronic pain is often diagnosed when a patient feels the same persistent pain from three to six months or more. Though most can agree that pain lasting longer for even a month is already intolerable.
Chronic pain can be felt anywhere in the body for a wide variety of different reasons. Some patients may have neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, sciatica, or any number of different conditions causing constant pain. Yet every patient with chronic pain can relate to the same problem—they are tired of being in agony.
What are the Warning Signs of Chronic Pain?
Because chronic pain can be caused by a large number of different conditions, it is difficult to say exactly what warning signs to look out for. We do know, however, that certain factors cause patients to have a higher predisposition to developing chronic pain, and those factors include:
- Increased age
- Being female
- Having surgery
- Being overweight
- Stress or mood disorders
- Previous trauma
If you are a patient with single or multiple factors contributing to being at risk for developing chronic pain, living a healthy lifestyle such as utilizing stress relaxation techniques, healthy food, and lots of exercise may help reduce your risk, or even help with lowering your current chronic pain level.
Of note, many sufferers of chronic pain report increased levels of depression and anxiety, both of which can contribute to feeling more pain
Taking entheogens can be like air travel: people do it all the time, it’s usually fine, but when it’s not fine, it’s sometimes very bad. We’ve been there. And that’s where an experienced guide can make the difference in the outcome.
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