Cause for a re- think on drug models of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders

Psychiatry’s next top model: cause for a re-think on drug models of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders

RL Carhart-Harris, S Brugger, DJ Nutt and JM Stone

Despite the widespread application of drug modelling in psychiatric research, the relative value of different models has never been formally compared in the same analysis.

Here we compared the effects of five drugs (cannabis, psilocybin, amphetamine, ketamine and alcohol) in relation to psychiatric symptoms in a two-part subjective analysis. In the first part, mental health professionals associated statements referring to specific experiences, for example ‘I don’t bother to get out of bed’, to one or more psychiatric symptom clusters, for example depression and negative psychotic symptoms.

This measured the specificity of an experience for a particular disorder. In the second part, individuals with personal experience with each of the above-listed drugs were asked how reliably each drug produced the experiences listed in part 1, both acutely and sub-acutely.

Part 1 failed to find any experiences that were specific for negative or cognitive psychotic symptoms over depression. The best model of positive symptoms was psilocybin and the best models overall were the acute alcohol and amphetamine models of mania. These results challenge current assumptions about drug models and motivate further research on this understudied area.

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Recent Comments

  • terry hall on Help us treat depression!I would be very interested to hear about your research on your use of psychedelics , I would be very interested if you are looking for new volunteers for further trials , I am 50 years old and I have suffered with depression for 25 years and have fou…
  • Bob on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHi, I have read your articles and I am currently on anti depressants. I have tried different kinds as I have mild PTSD from military service and suffer from depression constantly. I would very much like to assist and be a volunteer for future trials.
  • Chris noton on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHello, I’m am 43 year old male living in oxford and suffered from depression and anxiety for 20 some years and I am a chronic suffer. I am very interested in participating on this type of drug trial. In my 20’s I have picked my own mushrooms once or…
  • Anonymous on Are you having a psychedelic experience in the near future?Hi All, I suffer from depression and anxiety and have done so for many years. After being placed on anti-depressants (again), I had a very bad response and the side effects of increased suicidal thoughts became unbearable. It was an everyday battle o…
  • J Moran on Help us treat depression!Hello, I am wondering if you have completed your research into the use of psychedelics to aid with depression. I suffer with it myself and want to know if you are still looking for volunteers? I am currently 20 years old, turning 21 in September. I a…
  • Leo Tognetti on The administration of psilocybin to healthy hallucinogen experienced volunteersHi Drew Thanks for sharing. What was your method?
  • Richard NAUGHTON on Help us treat depression!These mushrooms have powers beyond the understanding of the modern world that have been lost in translation since the dawn of man . I've used them and felt drawn to them and felt it was a calling . I collected them myself for 15 years ate them , drie…
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