Do Genetics Play A Role In Why Some People Respond Differently To Psychedelic Drug Therapy?

Psychedelic drug therapy, including drugs like psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline, is used to treat a wide range of mental illnesses. While these treatments help many people manage their mental health, they do not work for everyone. According to Healthline, about one-third of people who try psychedelic drug therapy do not respond well to the treatment. Scientists are not completely sure why this is the case, but they believe that a person's genetics may impact how effective psychedelic drug therapy is for them.

A new study published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience found that gene variants for 5-HT2A, a serotonin receptor, could significantly affect how a person responds to psychedelic drugs. "Genetic variation in this receptor has been shown to influence the response of patients to other drugs," said Dustin Hines, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "While psychedelic therapies can provide rapid and sustained therapeutic benefits for multiple mental health concerns, there are a proportion of patients who fail to respond." More studies are needed to determine how much genetics impact response to psychedelic drug therapy and what other factors impact response as well.

Other treatment options for mental illnesses

Psychedelic drug therapy can be used to treat many mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (via Healthline). However, there are many other treatment options for these conditions as well. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear, and symptoms may include sweating, heart palpitations, and difficulty sleeping. Treatment options for anxiety include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes (via Mayo Clinic). Depression is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, fatigue, and negative thoughts. Treatment options for depression include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes (via Cleveland Clinic).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event such as war, assault, or natural disaster (via WebMD). Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of triggers, and hypervigilance. Treatment options for PTSD include medication, psychotherapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.