Gold Star Research Study

Surviving family of military service members are prone to experiencing symptoms of complicated grief/prolonged grief disorder, particularly because military-related deaths often occur suddenly and without warning.

Military spouses also often suffer from psychiatric conditions that are a direct result of their deceased spouse’s military service, such as major depressive disorder and/or PTSD.

The Mission Within (TMW) will be collaborating with Heroic Hearts Project to be a research site for UT Austin’s Center for Psychedelic Research and Therapy to study the outcomes of psychedelic therapy on Gold Star Spouses and other family members.

The study will test the hypothesis that the receipt of psilocybin or 5-MeO-DMT assisted psychotherapy will: (1) demonstrate therapeutic benefits for mental health symptoms of prolonged/complicated grief, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms; and (2) promote changes in brain function that show relationships to facets of clinical symptom change.

This study will measure changes in brain function utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalographic recordings (EEG) that occur before and after participating in a retreat. Additional tests and measures will be performed.

Participants must undergo two telemedicine screenings and interviews before the retreat, two in-person visits (two days each visit) to Austin, TX to undergo in-person biological assessments; and follow-up interviews and measures after participating in the retreat.

The in-person assessments will take place in Austin, TX before and right after the retreat. All participants will be provided with airfare, two days and nights of hotel booking, and $200 for ground transportation, meals, and incidentals for each trip to Austin, TX. Participants will be compensated up to $900 for completing the study.

To be considered for this study, participants must:

(1) Be a female spouse or long-term partner of a veteran or active-duty military service member that has passed away either during military service or as a result of mental or physical health sequelae related to military service.

(2) Be planning to pursue psychedelic psychotherapy at The Mission Within treatment center for the purposes of alleviating mental health symptoms related to the loss of spouse or partner. The participant must be willing to be randomized to treatment with psilocybin, 5-MeO-DMT, or a delayed treatment condition. Treatment would occur after both assessments which would be after approximately one month.

(3) Have English as a primary language OR comprehension of English suitable to understand research staff instructions.

(4) Meet the criteria for prolonged grief.

1. Evidence of the current or prior history of psychosis or bipolar disorder as evidenced by self-report or clinical interview.

2. Unremovable ferrous metal in the body.

3. History of neurological disorder, stroke, seizures/convulsions (except febrile seizures in childhood), epilepsy, brain surgery, electroconvulsive or radiation treatment, brain hemorrhage or tumor, moderate-to-severe head injury or any penetrating head injury, or an uncontrolled thyroid disorder.

4. Current psychological and/or physical conditions that would be contraindicated for treatment with psilocybin or 5-MeO DMT, including, but not limited to, uncontrolled hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, the taking of certain medications known to be contraindicated for use with serotonergic psychedelics (e.g., monoamine oxidase inhibitors), current active alcohol or drug dependence, and being pregnant or about to become pregnant.

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