FRESH AIR: People who have been taking antidepressants for several years sometimes hit a wall, a point when that treatment no longer seems to ease their symptoms. Psychiatrist Julie Holland says that’s where psychedelic drugs could help. Holland was in charge of Bellevue Hospital’s psychiatric emergency room on the weekends from 1996 until 2005, and currently has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan. She’s a medical monitor on the MAPS studies, which involve, in part, developing psychedelics into prescription medication. Her new book, Good Chemistry, explores how she thinks psychedelic drugs, including LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and marijuana, might be used more widely in psychiatry to make treatment more efficientand effective.
“There are certain plant medicines in particular — things like psilocybin or ayahuasca — that really help people not only explore their personal trauma,” she says, but also “this feeling of unity and connection. People really come away from these experiences having a new perspective.” Holland acknowledges that the use of psychedelic drugs in psychiatry is controversial — but she says the practice is slowly gaining acceptance.
“Good psychotherapy takes years and there are a lot of fits and starts,” she says, “and people run away when things get too heavy. But it’s changing more and more. … The data is so compelling that in my opinion, people in my profession have no excuse for not knowing what’s going on.” MORE