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LSD treatment in Scandinavia: emphasizing indications and short-term treatment outcomes of 151 patients in Denmark

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New research has suggested the clinical use of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin in selected patient populations. However, concerns about the clinical use of LSD were advanced in a large Danish follow-up study that assessed 151 LSD-treated psychiatric patients approximately 25 years after their treatment in the 1960s.
The purpose of the present study was to give a retrospective account of the short-term outcome of LSD treatment in these 151 Danish psychiatric patients.
The LSD case material in the Danish State Archives consists of medical case records of 151 LSD-treated patients, who complained and received economic compensation with the LSD Damages Law. The author carefully read and reviewed the LSD case material.
LSD was used to treat a wide spectrum of mental disorders. Independent of diagnoses, 52 patients improved, and 48 patients worsened acutely with the LSD treatment. In a subgroup of 82 neurotic patients, the LSD dose-index (number of treatments multiplied by the maximal LSD dose) indicated the risk of acute worsening. In another subgroup of 19 patients with obsessive-compulsive neurosis, five patients later underwent psychosurgery. A small subgroup of 12 patients was treated with psilocybin. The long-term outcome was poor in most of the patients.
Despite the significant limitations to a retrospective design, this database warrants caution in mental health patients. The use of LSD and psilocybin in mental health patients may be associated with serious short- and long-term side effects. Until further trials with rigorous designs have cleared these drugs of their potential harms, their clinical utility in these groups of patients has not been fully clarified.
Larsen, J. K. (2017). LSD treatment in Scandinavia: emphasizing indications and short-term treatment outcomes of 151 patients in Denmark. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 1-7. 10.1080/08039488.2017.1336251
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