Got a case of climate anxiety? Don’t worry — the doc is here with some psychedelics

Yes, climate change is frightening. Wind speeds exceeding 200 mph in the recent Category 5 hurricane that hit Acapulco, Mexico. More than $165 billion in weather-related disasters in the U.S. in 2022. Canadian wildfires sending choking smoke into the U.S. And 2023 the hottest year on record, both in the U.S. and the world.

But psychologically damaging, too? Well, the answer to that question more and more appears to be in the affirmative. For instance, as we covered earlier this year, almost three-quarters (73%) of British 6- to 24-year-olds reported that the climate crisis was having a negative effect on their mental health, according to a survey by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), with a parent of a 14-year-old girl telling The Guardian that her daughter is “terrified.”

But help may be on the way — and it’s in the form of psychedelic therapy. In other words, drugs such as ketamine and, if they get FDA approval, psilocybin and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy).

Yup, as psychiatrist Emily Willow, founder of the ketamine-oriented ClearSight Center in San Francisco, writes in The Washington Post, she is seeing more and more people in her practice “suffering from what mental health professionals are calling eco-anxiety and climate grief.”

Some of that, she reports, comes from immediate crises, such a post-traumatic stress disorder related to wildfire evacuations. But for some, especially her younger clients, it centers around concerns “about planning for an uncertain future, including decisions about going to college or whether to have children,” while others “are feeling heightened anxiety and stress about more profound existential concerns about the fate of the planet and its ecosystems.”

And that’s where, along with talk therapy, the drugs come in, with Willow citing a study published in 2019, in which people who had a single experience with psychedelics (mostly psilocybin) were more likely to report feeling a relatedness or connection with nature.

Like some flowers in your hair? Cue the Scott McKenzie.

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