How the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a spike in PTSD cases
45-year-old Chris is an engineer and a father of two who contracted COVID-19 while taking a business trip. As his symptoms developed, he became short of breath and felt as if he was drowning. The situation soon became an emergency. An ambulance was called, and he was admitted into the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital. Chris can recall that, before being placed on a ventilator, he thought he was going to die. Fortunately, he recovered and was discharged from the hospital after two weeks.
During his recovery at home, he started to get agitated, becoming increasingly anxious when monitoring his own breathing pattern and pulse rate. He worried that if he fell asleep, he would never wake up. Palpitations combined with fear led him to break out in a sweat. Unable to return to work, he fell into despair and isolated himself. All of the signs were there, but it took another month before Chris was officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder — commonly referred to as PTSD.
Most people associate PTSD with military personnel who survive a harrowing trauma but continue reliving the experience. Now, COVID-19 victims are experiencing a similar set of negative emotions, flashbacks and nightmares. They might stay away from places, objects or events that remind them of the traumatic event. Moreover, they might keep on resisting thoughts and emotions associated with that event. Avoidance of all such things might lead to functional impairment. PTSD symptoms such as brain fogging may arise as a response to invasive measures like intubation taken to treat them. Although not a medical condition, brain fogging is a characterization of mental symptoms that inhibit our ability to think and concentrate.
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic brought on untold suffering with lengthy stays in hospitals, it has unleashed a psychological trauma that is likely to persist for months, years or an indefinite period. Furthermore, PTSD is affecting those who suffered and recovered from COVID-19 as well as their family members and frontline workers. Parents, children and siblings mourn the loss of their loved ones or worry about the possibility of it happening to themselves. Flashbacks of being in the ICU, images of doctors and nurses wearing PPE, and up-close witnessing of a slow and agonizing death can lead to re-experiencing the negative mental conditions and cause long-term psychological damage.
Frontline workers who have witnessed COVID-19 patients suffering and dying, and not being able to treat them due to lack of resources end up with anger and guilt. These emotions, if left unresolved, can lead to self-destructive behaviors and substance misuse. These workers might become socially withdrawn and find it difficult to live a normal life. They might face relationship problems, experience reduced empathy and difficulties remaining in the workplace.
At the moment, there is a wide array of treatments for mental health disorders, particularly when it comes to PTSD. Traditional medicines like antidepressants tackle the symptoms of mental illness. Most recently, researchers have identified a certain class of psychedelic drugs that can address the root cause of these chronic diseases through transformational experiences that restore broken brain connectivity and erase negative thought patterns.
“Psychedelics are shaking up the market for mental health and neurodegenerative disease treatments,” said Philip Young, chief executive officer of Lobe Sciences, one company that is in the forefront of psychedelic research and therapy development.
Armed with five provisional patent applications, Lobe Sciences has identified unique combinations of psychedelic compounds that may be used in treatment of PTSD. This sets the firm apart from many of the others working in the same space. Moreover, Lobe Sciences has developed a partnership with the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami and is currently conducting a large pre-clinical study which, if successful should pave the way for advancing discussions with U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
In particular, Lobe Sciences is focused on the concept of micro-dosing and a unique nasal delivery device. Research has shown that small and repeated doses of psychedelics can deliver superior success rates at greater speeds than any traditional mental health treatment. Although in the development phase, it is not unreasonable to say that psychedelics could drive the biggest mental health care revolution of our time.
“With the growing prevalence of PTSD among COVID-19 survivors and frontline healthcare workers, policymakers should recognize the need to accelerate the timeline for the approval of psychedelic therapies,” added Mr. Young.
“Through the cutting-edge R&D conducted by Lobe Sciences and our partners, we hope to help solve the PTSD crisis with psychedelic compounds that are both safe and cost-effective.”
To learn about Lobe Sciences and its ongoing efforts in the development of psychedelic therapies, please visit https://www.lobesciences.com. The company is publicly-traded on the OTC markets under the ticker symbol GTSIF.