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      Symptom specificity of ayahuasca's effect on depressive symptoms

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          Abstract

          Background

          Ayahuasca's effects on symptoms of depression have generated considerable optimism. Clients frequently report more concern about some symptoms than others, and available treatments alter symptoms differentially. Few studies address the symptom specificity of this psychoactive brew.

          Aims

          We examined self-reported effects of ayahuasca on the individual symptoms of depression assessed by the 10-item short-form of Center for Epidemiological Studies of Depression (CESD-10).

          Methods

          We asked over 120 participants to complete a retrospective assessment of CESD-10 symptoms one month before and one month after using ayahuasca.

          Results

          Participants indicated that ayahuasca had a larger influence on affective symptoms like hope, depressed mood, and happiness, than cognitive, interpersonal, and somatic symptoms like restless sleep, loneliness, and difficulty focusing.

          Conclusions

          Potential clients might appreciate identifying if different treatments provide more relief for some depressive symptoms than others. We examined retrospective reports of ayahuasca's potential for differential impact. Those eager to alter hope, happiness, and other affective symptoms will likely find ayahuasca more helpful than those who want an intervention for restless sleep, loneliness, or trouble focusing. This symptom specificity parallels the effects of serotonergic antidepressant medications, suggesting that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy using ayahuasca might have considerable appeal for those who seek comparable relief but would rather not use prescription serotonergic medications. Jumpstarting psychotherapy with the rapid onset of ayahuasca-induced relief also appears to have potential.

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          Author and article information

          Contributors
          Journal
          2054
          Journal of Psychedelic Studies
          JPS
          Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
          2559-9283
          11 May 2021
          17 April 2021
          : 5
          : 1
          : 37-43
          Affiliations
          [1] Department of Psychology, University at Albany , SUNY Albany, NY, 12203, United States
          Author notes
          [* ]Corresponding author. cgilbert2@ 123456albany.edu
          Article
          10.1556/2054.2021.00165
          1849a24c-f17c-49ce-a603-fdc00bb59a34
          © 2021 The Author(s)

          Open Access. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

          Page count
          Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 53, Pages: 07

          Evolutionary Biology,Medicine,Psychology,Educational research & Statistics,Social & Behavioral Sciences
          psychedelic-assisted therapy,antidepressants,ayahuasca,symptom specificity,depression

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