The psychedelic future of post-traumatic stress disorder treatment

Tamar Glatman Zaretsky, Kathleen M. Jagodnik, Robert Barsic, Josimar Hernandez Antonio, Philip A. Bonanno, Carolyn Macleod, Charlotte Pierce, Hunter Carney, Morgan T. Morrison, Charles Saylor, George Danias, Lauren Lepow, Rachel Yehuda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur following exposure to a traumatic experience. An estimated 12 million U.S. adults are presently affected by this disorder. Current treatments include psychological therapies (e.g., exposure-based interventions) and pharmacological treatments (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)). However, a significant proportion of patients receiving standard-of-care therapies for PTSD remain symptomatic, and new approaches for this and other trauma-related mental health conditions are greatly needed. Psychedelic compounds that alter cognition, perception, and mood are currently being examined for their efficacy in treating PTSD despite their current status as Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)- scheduled substances. Initial clinical trials have demonstrated the potential value of psychedelicassisted therapy to treat PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. In this comprehensive review, we summarize the state of the science of PTSD clinical care, including current treatments and their shortcomings. We review clinical studies of psychedelic interventions to treat PTSD, trauma-related disorders, and common comorbidities. The classic psychedelics psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and DMT-containing ayahuasca, as well as the entactogen 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and the dissociative anesthetic ketamine, are reviewed. For each drug, we present the history of use, psychological and somatic effects, pharmacology, and safety profile. The rationale and proposed mechanisms for use in treating PTSD and traumarelated disorders are discussed. This review concludes with an in-depth consideration of future directions for the psychiatric applications of psychedelics to maximize therapeutic benefit and minimize risk in individuals and communities impacted by trauma-related conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-735
Number of pages100
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Bentham Science Publishers.


  • 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
  • Ayahuasca
  • Ketamine
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
  • Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Psilocybin
  • Psychedelics
  • Trauma


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