Emerging PTSD Treatments May One Day Help Cyclists
The injuries from a bad bicycle accident aren’t purely physical.
Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also linger and be difficult to treat. But a new push in research could open up new treatment possibilities for people suffering from trauma.
While there isn’t a lot of research specifically on bike accidents and PTSD, we know that any traumatic event can make a big difference in nearly all parts of your life. Additionally, studies show that traffic accidents generally often leave survivors with PTSD. Emerging research in drugs like MDMA, LSD, and psilocybin is proving promising for patients who struggle with PTSD and other mental illnesses.
New Discoveries in Banned Substances
Most drugs at the forefront of research right now are also Schedule I drugs, meaning that they are some of the most restricted and have been classified by federal agencies as having no accepted medical use. For decades, this has made research on the positive effects of psychedelics very hard. Only in the last decade have scientists been able to study the drugs and their effects extensively enough to challenge their long-accepted stigmas.
While the federal government’s stance has not formally shifted yet, many researchers are starting to turn the bend on that notion as more and more patients have seen results from the drug.
“After years of struggling in silence, I began to hear stories about others who had suffered from crippling PTSD, then had their lives transformed by guided therapeutic sessions with MDMA,” explains Khaliya Aga Khan, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Future of Health and Healthcare council, who was robbed many years ago. “I knew those offering this underground treatment were breaking the law, but I had to try it. I wanted my mind back. It worked. MDMA-assisted therapy allowed me to overcome the trauma and return to the person I had been before I was attacked.”
In 2017, Khan wrote for the New York Times that she considered herself “living proof of the effectiveness of MDMA.”
For MDMA in particular, researchers have been studying what American Association for the Advancement of Science calls a “therapeutic marriage” of a patient receiving the mind-altering drug while being cared for by a trained therapist. The drug alters the brain’s chemistry to make it more flexible, making the therapy portion of the treatment even more beneficial.
In one study by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) where the method was used, two-thirds of treated participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. This could be huge for the nearly 13 million Americans that suffer from the disorder, according to federal estimates.
Other drugs, mainly LSD and psilocybin, are similarly seeing a renaissance in research, and it’s happening around the world.
“Psychedelics … through whatever mechanisms, seem to represent a significant improvement over the standard therapies,” Dr Martin Williams, executive director of Psychedelic Research in Science & Medicine, tells the Guardian.
The Future is Close
The MAPS study may seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its therapy as early as this year. MDMA was granted “breakthrough” designation by the federal agency in 2017 for the trial process.
Other ongoing studies are helping to inch along progress too. A 2022 randomized, double-blind clinical trial found that psilocybin (a compound found in “magic mushrooms”) improved depression symptoms in participants.
It’s clear that there is a lot of exciting work being done around psychedelic drugs and mental health right now, but it’s also early. Studies take time and government approval can be slow moving, even when it’s expedited, as was the case with the MAPS research.
It’s possible that patients in need could see some form of psychedelic-assisted therapy in the next several years, but it’s unlikely that it will be widely available.
Dealing With PTSD Now
It’s not uncommon for the bicycle lawyers at Bay Area Bicycle Law to see clients who are experiencing PTSD after an accident.
We often think of PTSD in the context of soldiers returning from war after prolonged exposure to war, but it can occur in more common instances too. In fact, one study found that nearly 40% of motor vehicle accident victims suffered from PTSD, so it’s actually pretty normal for cyclists involved in a serious accident to experience it too.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney (in addition to seeking any medical treatment you can afford before a personal injury case settlement) if you think your crash has given you PTSD. Bay Area Bicycle Law is fully dedicated to working on bicycle cases and may help you get compensated for treatment related to the PTSD and any loss of wages associated with it. We have a number of specialists that we regularly work with who can help to determine whether you are suffering from PTSD, and identify potential treatment options.
You may be experiencing PTSD if you experience all of the following symptoms at least once per month, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
● At least one re-experiencing symptom
● At least one avoidance symptom
● At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
● At least two cognition and mood symptoms
These symptoms might mean that you’re having flashbacks, avoiding the place of the accident, feeling “on edge” or having trouble remembering details of the event.
For now, talking therapies and medicine are the two major treatments for PTSD. It’s important to seek treatment because without help, PTSD may last for years. That can lead to other mental and physical health problems.
If you’re having trouble finding a mental health professional or don’t know where to start, begin by contacting your primary care physician and asking for a referral. And if you experience any suicidal thoughts, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.