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The Future Is Psychedelic: Vail Health Innovation Center Director’s Research Digs Into Psilocybin as a Treatment for Depression

Psilocybin for the treatment of Depression
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

The use of psychedelics, including psilocybin, as a treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions is a topic of rising interest and popularity.

Vail Health Behavioral Health is looking to make advancements in mental and behavioral health, including local developments like the Precourt Healing Center in Edwards. It is also seeking new and innovative treatments through research from its Behavioral Health Innovation Center, led by Dr. Charles Raison.

The Vail Health’s Behavioral Health Innovation Center is expected to start its own psilocybin research sometime this summer and will seek to answer some of the outstanding questions from Raison’s previous studies. This information will be “influential” in terms of informing “how to optimally use psilocybin, in this case, for depression,” Raison said.

The work will seek to answer: “How well does (psilocybin) actually work in the real world of patients that are coming to get help in Vail,” Raison said. This is especially critical in Colorado following the recent legalization of psilocybin. Raison said the study will look to engage 140 people and will likely take three to four years to conduct.

While billions of dollars have been spent on neuroscience research and many drugs created, rates of depression, anxiety, suicide and other mental health conditions have steadily increased. Psychedelics and psilocybin represent “a completely different mechanism of action,” Raison said.

“There is a desperate need in the mental health field, both amongst clinicians who want to be more effective in helping to treat patients, and in patients, there is a desperation to get more benefit, to find something new,” Raison said. “The need is overwhelming.”

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