Expending Perspectives on the Potential for Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies to Improve the Experience of Aging

Published:October 02, 2022DOI:
      There has been a resurgence of research into the therapeutic effects of psychedelic-assisted therapies (PAT) within the last two decades, with groundbreaking results for some of the most treatment-resistant psychiatric conditions, including depression, Psot-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance-use disorder, and end-of-life anxiety. Johnston et al. review these data regarding the unmet clinical needs in older adults and emphasize PAT's potential applications in this population.
      • Johnston CB
      • Mangini M
      • Grob C
      • et al.
      The safety and efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapies for older adults: knowns and unknowns the American.
      However, citing the lack of safety and efficacy data and the potentially heightened risks in patients over the age of 60, the authors rightly highlight that generalization of these findings to the geriatric population would be premature and that further research is warranted to define potential indications and safety guidelines. Even though there have been no long-term medical complications or serious adverse events reported in recent PAT studies, acute effects that may be of concern in older adults are related to the effects of psychedelics on the cardiovascular system, including hypertension, tachycardia and QTc prolongation. However, more research is needed to evaluate the true significance of this risk in older adults. Of the agents mentioned in this article and for the purposes discussed, psilocybin may pose a lower risk and be better suited than 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) given psilocybin's lack of sympathomimetic effects and its increased degree of spirituality and mysticism relative to methylenedioxymethamphetamine.
      • Roseman L
      • Leech R
      • Feilding A
      • et al.
      The effects of psilocybin and MDMA on between-network resting state functional connectivity in healthy volunteers.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Johnston CB
        • Mangini M
        • Grob C
        • et al.
        The safety and efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapies for older adults: knowns and unknowns the American.
        J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022; 31: 44-53
        • Roseman L
        • Leech R
        • Feilding A
        • et al.
        The effects of psilocybin and MDMA on between-network resting state functional connectivity in healthy volunteers.
        Front Human Neurosci. 2014; 8204
        • Horne M
        • Speed S
        • Skelton D
        • et al.
        What do community-dwelling Caucasian and South Asian 60-70 year olds think about exercise for fall prevention?.
        Age Ageing. 2009; 38: 68-73
        • Wolff M
        • Evens R
        • Mertens LJ
        • et al.
        Learning to let go: a cognitive-behavioral model of how psychedelic therapy promotes acceptance.
        Front Psychiatr. 2020; 115
        • Maia LO
        • Beaussant Y
        • Garcia ACM
        The therapeutic potential of psychedelic-assisted therapies for symptom control in patients diagnosed with serious illness: a systematic review.
        J Pain Symptom Manage. 2022; 63: e725-e738
        • Andela M
        • Truchot D
        • Huguenotte V
        Work environment and elderly abuse in nursing homes: the mediating role of burnout.
        J Interpers Violence. 2021; 36: 5709-5729
        • Longevity TLH
        The second shadow pandemic: elder abuse.
        Lancet Healthy Longev. 2021; 2: e301
        • Schwarz-Plaschg C
        Socio-psychedelic imaginaries: envisioning and building legal psychedelic worlds in the United States.
        Eur J Futures Res. 2022; 10: 10
        • Chang B-H
        • Noonan AE
        • Tennstedt SL
        The role of religion/spirituality in coping with caregiving for disabled elders.
        Gerontologist. 1998; 38: 463-470
        • Anderson BT
        • Danforth A
        • Daroff PR
        • et al.
        Psilocybin-assisted group therapy for demoralized older long-term AIDS survivor men: an open-label safety and feasibility pilot study.
        EClinicalMedicine. 2020; 27100538
        • Trope A
        • Anderson BT
        • Hooker AR
        • et al.
        Psychedelic-assisted group therapy: a systematic review.
        J Psychoact Drugs. 2019; 51: 174-188
        • Schwartz C
        Taking ayahuasca when you're a senior citizen.
        The New York Times. 2019; (Available at:) (Accessed September 26, 2022)
        • Kettner H
        • Rosas FE
        • Timmermann C
        • et al.
        Psychedelic communitas: intersubjective experience during psychedelic group sessions predicts enduring changes in psychological wellbeing and social connectedness.
        Front Pharmacol. 2021; 12623985
        • Smigielski L
        • Scheidegger M
        • Kometer M
        • et al.
        Psilocybin-assisted mindfulness training modulates self-consciousness and brain default mode network connectivity with lasting effects.
        Neuroimage. 2019; 196: 207-215
        • Sloshower J
        • Guss J
        • Krause R
        • et al.
        Psilocybin-assisted therapy of major depressive disorder using acceptance and commitment therapy as a therapeutic frame.
        J Context Behav Sci. 2020; 15: 12-19
        • Monson CM
        • Wagner AC
        • Mithoefer AT
        • et al.
        MDMA-facilitated cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an uncontrolled trial.
        Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2020; 111840123
        • Beachy J
        • Petersen R
        Chaplaincy and psychedelic-assisted therapy: opportunities and barriers.
        Reflective Pract Form Superv Minist. 2022; 42

      Linked Article

      • The Safety and Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies for Older Adults: Knowns and Unknowns
        The American Journal of Geriatric PsychiatryVol. 31Issue 1
        • Preview
          The past decade has seen a groundswell of interest in the use of psychedelic medicines for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the distress associated with a serious medical illness.1 The enthusiasm for these compounds is understandable, given the dramatic accounts of improvement reported in both peer-reviewed journals and the popular press.2 A number of localities have decriminalized psilocybin-containing mushrooms and other psychedelics, and Oregon's measure 109 has established a path for legal “psilocybin services” to be offered in the state starting in 2023.
        • Full-Text
        • PDF