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TOPIC: ptsd


Psychedelics For PTSD? Tests In The World's Latest Wars, From Ukraine To Afghanistan

Psychedelic-assisted MDMA therapy for PTSD has shown some promise in the West, but plans to export it globally may be premature.

When the war in Ukraine broke out, many countries and agencies around the world lent their support in the form of financial aid, weapons, and food. But Olga Chernoloz, a Ukrainian neuroscientist based in Canada, wanted to provide a different kind of assistance: a combination of therapy and the psychedelic drug MDMA.

Such therapy, she said, could help countless people on the ground who are suffering from psychological trauma. “I thought that the most efficacious way I could be of help,” she told Undark, “would be to bring psychedelic-assisted therapy to Ukraine.” Chernoloz’s confidence stems in part from the results of clinical trials on MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in vulnerable populations, which suggest that such treatments may improve symptoms, or do away with them altogether. But the approach is experimental and has not yet cleared major regulatory hurdles in Canada, Europe, or the United States.

Still, Chernoloz, who is a professor at the University of Ottawa, plans on carrying out clinical trials with Ukrainian refugees in a psychedelic center in the Netherlands in early 2024.

This month, Chernoloz and her colleagues organized an education session for 20 Ukrainian therapists to learn about MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, one of the most influential organizations dedicated to education and promotion of psychedelic drugs.

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Mongolian Soldiers Accuse The Military Of Using “Torture” To Maintain Discipline

Illegal punishment through the use of torture is increasingly common in Mongolia’s military, where 44 soldiers have died and 468 violations have been reported in the last decade, according to a 2022 report. Many former soldiers have been physically abused and harassed. After hearing recent reports of torture, the commission has begun training mental health professionals to serve in the military to help.

ZUUNBAYAN — Bayartsogt Jargalsaikhan had been guarding the weapons warehouse since midnight in the January freeze, and he was cold. Five minutes before his shift ended, he went inside to warm up.

That fateful decision in 2017 would get Bayartsogt and his fellow soldiers tortured by their commanding officer, leaving him permanently disabled and making him one more statistic in Mongolia’s long history of human rights violations inside the military.

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How Trauma Causes Premature Aging — With Fresh Evidence From Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been going on for a year. Many have died, fled or been traumatized — day after day and night after night. Such harrowing experiences leave deep wounds. But there are ways to overcome traumatic experiences.

BERLIN — For Nathalia, New Year’s Eve was never good. The loud bangs of the fireworks shocked her so much that she ran as fast and as far as she could. She ran as if in a trance, not even realizing that she had left behind her husband, who was older and had a heart condition.

Nathalia — her name has been changed in this article — is almost 50 years old. About six months ago, her and her husband ran as fast as their feet could carry them, with just a few belongings they had quickly gathered. Away from the border with Russia, to Donbas, in the direction of Kyiv. Behind them, the sounds of Russian artillery bombardment, and bombs that seemed so close.

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They arrived in Poland on an overcrowded train from Kyiv, surrounded by exhausted people with fearful, desperate faces. In Poland, relatives waited to take them to Germany, and safety. But for their children, there was no escape from their fear.

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Talking Risks: New Research Finds Psychotherapy Can Have Dangerous Side Effects

It has long been assumed that psychotherapy can do no harm at worst. But new research makes clear that for some people, it can have very serious, even life-threatening, consequences.

BERLIN — Until now, we have assumed that, at worst, psychotherapy has no impact whatsoever. However, new research shows that treatment can have serious risks. A few patients experience side effects — and sometimes even an increase in mental health problems.

Across Europe and the United States, experts and politicians alike are concerned that people’s mental health is suffering. Massimiliano Mascherini from Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, has even said we are experiencing a “parallel pandemic in mental health”. U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced that mental health was one of his top priorities and his government would provide $300 million of funding for mental health and community projects.

Why? Well, one in five people in the U.S. has mental health problems. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, even before the pandemic hit, one in 10 women and 8.1% of men in Germany were seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The coronavirus crisis has made matters worse. According to data from the World Health Organization, since the start of the pandemic, the number of people diagnosed with anxiety and depression has risen by 25%. As a result, more people are seeking professional help.

“Even after three years of the pandemic, the demand for psychotherapy remains high,” says Gebhard Hentschel, president of the German Psychotherapists Association. In summer 2022, the number of patients seeking therapy was still around 40% higher than before COVID, which means waiting lists at practices and clinics are also long.

So far the biggest issue has been the lack of provision. But research is starting to highlight another problem that until now has gone under the radar: psychotherapy, just like other medical interventions, comes with its own risks. “Around 10% of psychotherapy patients experience serious and long-lasting side effects,” says Michael Linden, a neurologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the Charité Hospital in Berlin.

Some patients even develop new, more serious anxieties, become dependent on their psychotherapists or experience a breakdown in relationships with family and friends. They end up in a worse situation than before, and in rare cases, therapy even ends in suicide.

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Iryna Serheieva*

Cargo 300: For The Wounds Of Ukraine Have No Time To Heal

After a grim New Year, a soldier and mother reflects on the trauma of the past 10 months: fear, the corpses of friends and the choice between her own children and joining the war effort.


The Facebook feed of holiday photos is not pleasant.

Someone is seen celebrating in a trench; others in blacked-out cities. Another is in a foreign country. And some spend a first holiday without a beloved father, son or husband.

It is all sadness.

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Cargo 300 is a military term for transporting a wounded soldier out of combat zones. Cargo 200 is for the deceased.

As I return to civilian life, I realize that from now on and for decades to come, we will be a nation of "300s," wounded by war, physically and morally crippled, regardless of whether or not we were directly on the battlefield.

Immediately after demobilization, I travelled to Germany, where my children were all this time. I met a friend who had served eight months in Iraq.

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Marta Vidal

In Jordan, A Safe Space For Refugee Fathers

A group in East Amman gives men from Syria and other conflict zones an opportunity to open up and talk through the many ways they struggle.

AMMAN — Each week, a group of 15 or so refugee men meet at a community center in East Amman and sit in a circle. They laugh and cry together while sharing stories they always divide into two phases: before and after the war began.

War and protracted exile have stripped them of their traditional roles and identities as protectors and financial providers for their families. This group is a safe space in which they get to be vulnerable. They realize they're not alone — but most importantly, it's a chance to be heard.

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Anne-Ev Ustorf

Emergency Psychology: The Burden Of Delivering Bad News

MUNICH — Traffic collisions. Heart attacks. Even terrorist attacks. Tragedies strike every day, tearing people away from their loved ones forever. But events like this have a collateral impact beyond the victim's next of kin. They also affect the messengers, the proverbial bearers of bad news.

People with certain chosen specific vocations — police officers, for example — are particularly responsible for delivering this kind of heart-wrenching information. In Germany, if a person dies outside of his or her residence, police are automatically notified. It's their job, then, to inform the deceased's loved ones.

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Sally Toma*

Egypt, The Collective Trauma Of A Revolution Denied

More than three years since the Jan. 25 revolution, and with much having returned to the past, signs are everywhere of a shell-shocked nation. Analysis of an Egyptian psychiatrist.


CAIRO — A nurse and her staff use heavy medications to tame the men in a mental health ward into becoming compliant patients. Lost in a constant drug-induced haze, they have no interest in challenging the petty rules and regulations that govern the ward.

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