Lynnette A Averill, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
Psychedelic treatment for cognitive impairment, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among US Special Operations Veterans
Introduction: This study examined the effectiveness of ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT treatment for United States (US) Military Special Operations Veterans. We conducted a completely anonymous internet-based survey among those who completed a specific psychedelic clinical program in Mexico between 2017 and 2019. Questions probed mental health and cognitive functioning during the 30-days before and 30-days after the psychedelic treatment.
Methods: A total of 65 people completed treatment during this time frame and were eligible for contact. Of these, 51 (78%) completed the survey and were included in data analyses (Mage=40; male=96%; married=55%; Caucasian/White=92%; OEF/OIF Service=96%). Results Results indicated there were significant and very large reductions in symptoms related to cognitive impairment (p<.001; d=2.8), PTSD (p<.001; d=3.6), depression (p<.001; d=3.7), anxiety (p<.001; d=3.1), and suicidal ideation (p<.001; d=1.9), and a significant and large increase in psychological flexibility (p<.001; d=2.9) from before to after the psychedelic treatment. Increases in psychological flexibility were strongly associated with reductions in cognitive impairment, PTSD, depression, and anxiety (rs range 0.61 – 0.75; p<.001). Additionally, most participants rated the psychedelic experiences as one of the top five or single most personally meaningful (84%), spiritually significant (88%), and psychologically insightful (86%) experiences of their entire lives.
Conclusion: US Special Operations Veterans may have unique treatment needs because of the sequela of problems associated with repeated trauma, including a cluster of symptoms related to PTSD, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and suicidal ideation. Psychedelic-assisted therapy may hold promise as a treatment in this population with a critical need for improved treatments.