Billionaire Elon Musk, who is not a doctor, suggests solutions that he considers effective when it comes to mental health.
In April, Musk surprised his millions of fans by urging them to stay away from amphetamines, like Adderall. He said they’re dangerous.
It’s important to emphasize that Musk is neither a doctor nor a scientist, so he is not an expert on health issues.
But the world’s richest man has more than 97.3 million followers on Twitter, and a majority of them are fans. They adore him and are likely to listen to his advice and recommendations.
“Adderall is an anger amplifier,” Musk said back then. “Avoid at all costs.”
Adderall is approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, including having a short attention span and/or being hyperactive and impulsive.
It is a stimulant drug that can sometimes be prescribed off-label as an add-on treatment for treatment-resistant depression.
At the time, Musk had claimed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the most often prescribed antidepressants, were not so effective. He’d cited testimonies collected from people who’d taken them.
‘We Should Take This Seriously’
There now seems to be an alternative to these antidepressants. Indeed, the tech tycoon thinks psychedelics and ecstasy are more effective in treating mental illnesses.
In a Twitter thread, a writer asks TheStreet Founder Jim Cramer if he’s ever looked into the economic potential of psychedelics. The writer says the drugs would reduce what the writer called the $2.5 trillion cost of mental health.
“Have you looked at the pharmacoeconomic potential of psychedelics to massively reduce the $2.5T cost of mental health? Wall Street is missing out.,” the writer said on June 9.
Musk seized on this exchange.
“Psychedelics and MDMA can make a real difference to mental health, especially for extreme depression and PTSD,” Musk responded on June 10.
He then urged: “We should take this seriously.”
Noteworthy is that the question wasn’t posed to Musk and he hastened to answer. This no doubt testifies to the importance that the billionaire entrepreneur attaches to this problem.
Psychedelics and Ecstasy Taken Seriously
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a condition that’s triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, according to Mayoclinic.org,
“Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
As for MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), also known as ecstasy or molly, it is a synthetic drug that “alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions),” the website of the National Institutes of Health says.
“It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD a breakthrough therapy designation, which means that the federal agency will expedite its development and review.
In May, the FDA authorized clinics in 10 U.S. cities to use ecstasy to treat PTSD.
The drug is currently in clinical trials as a possible treatment aid for PTSD, anxiety in terminally ill patients, and social anxiety in autistic adults. The trials are in phase 3, the final step in clinical drug testing before approval, with possible FDA approval in 2023.
Results from phase 2 and phase 3 trials showed that 67% of participants in the MDMA-assisted therapy group no longer show PTSD symptoms after three sessions, and 88% of participants experienced a clinically significant reduction in symptoms.
But there are risks associated with MDMA: It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with heart and blood vessel problems, warns the NIH.
Some people have also reported signs of addiction.
The year 2023 is also important for psychedelics, also known as hallucinogens, which , unlike antidepressants are not stand-alone treatments. Research on these psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, is emerging due to the shortcomings of traditional antidepressant treatments.