Depression is being talked about more than ever and rightfully so. But many of us still have no idea how to address it. No matter how many mental health accounts and #positiveaffirmations hashtags we follow on Instagram, our lizard brain — that nagging voice in our head — makes us feel like our entire world is falling apart.
That’s because depression isn’t what you think. It’s not just a disorder you can write off, get some pills for and “cure” overnight. It also isn’t something that exists entirely in your head. There is real neuroscience that supports the depression-as-a-chemical-imbalance theory (though that isn’t as concrete as you might think, either.)
So, if you follow any online conversations around mental health, you’ve definitely heard about magic mushrooms and how it’s used to treat depression. If not, that’s okay. We’re going to fill you in on all the details. It turns out there’s a lot of compelling research to support the efficacy of microdosing mushrooms for depression.
This doesn’t mean you should run out and start taking shrooms on the daily, though. Any magic mushroom treatment for depression should get the green light from your doctor, therapist and psychiatrist (if applicable).
Let’s start off with the basics.
How Do Magic Mushrooms Help Depression?
What exactly makes them magic? When you think of someone taking shrooms, you probably imagine seizure inducing lights illuminating a sea of people in beaded crop-tops at Coachella. Or maybe a new age yogi who who took too much shrooms at Burning Man and claims to have found the meaning of life.
As it turns out, there’s no magic here. It’s science (*Cue Bill Nye theme song*). Magic mushrooms contain a psychedelic drug called psilocybin. Psilocybin naturally occurs in over 200 species of fungi, and has recently undergone serious medical evaluation as a potential treatment for mental health issues, namely depression and anxiety.
A 2021 psilocybin depression study found that it worked faster and more effectively than the prescription antidepressant Lexapro. The study was led by Robert Carhart-Harris, PhD, director of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.
In a six-week trial of 59 patients with moderate-to-severe depression, there was no noticeable difference between high-dose psilocybin and Lexapro. SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have been the go-to treatment for depression for decades, but a lot of people are coming clean and admitting they never really worked as well as they hoped.
This doesn’t mean magic mushrooms are the perfect solution, either. Depression doesn’t always make sense, and everyone’s ideal treatment will differ. That being said, promising research and real experiences circulating around the web are showing that psilocybin for depression could help a lot of people.
How Magic Mushrooms Affect the Brain
Just like a prescription antidepressant, shrooms are all about serotonin. They help build and strengthen neural pathways that open your mind to greater potential. Depression can create shortcuts to negative thinking, which send us spiraling into bouts of self-doubt and loathing.
These negative thought patterns become habitual, and it’s why you may think you are the root of the problem even though that’s not the case.
Depression can be brutally persistent and shrooms can help open up doors you didn’t see before. They can help you feel more open-minded, and as a result, more hopeful and optimistic.
For someone who’s been wrestling with depression for years, darkness feels endless. Eventually, you may even resign yourself to thinking this is all there is for you. That’s not true, and it never has been.
We can’t say shrooms are for everyone, but they do benefit a lot of people. So much so, in fact, that major hospitals and research teams are now looking into them as a viable clinical treatment option.
Notable Studies Show Psilocbyin’s Benefits
Microdosing introduces small amounts of a drug to maximize its benefits while minimizing its less desirable side-effects. When it comes to shrooms, we know that less is more.
Microdosing to treat the symptoms of depression can help clear your mind without feeling like you’re having an out-of-body experience as you would on a much larger dose.
The relationship between psilocybin and depression is still being actively studied by organizations around the world. So far, the results look promising.
Take this example:
In 2019, a group of researchers published a codebook for microdosing for depression in the Harm Reduction Journal. They found that taking psychedelics for depression lead to improved mood and greater focus. There were some drawbacks, however.
Some people experienced psilocybin anxiety, which is a challenge they may be able to overcome by spacing out their doses and taking smaller quantities.
There are also plenty of discoveries coming from The Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. With $17 million in funding, researchers have the resources they need to dig deep and discover exactly how magic mushrooms can help depression, the effects of psilocybin on the brain and potential applications in medicine and mental health.
A 2020 study led by the team at Johns Hopkins found that psychedelic treatment helped alleviate the symptoms of major depression. Two doses of psilocybin helped patients who suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD) for at least 30 days.
The study found that the results of microdosing were four times more effective than traditional antidepressants.
The secret to success was in microdosing. Rather than completely overhaul a patient’s brain with a heavy prescription, the psychedelic treatment gradually introduced psilocybin into their system.
The study concluded that taking magic mushrooms for depression could open the door to treatment to a much wider population than previously considered.
The average participant was 39 years old and had been experiencing symptoms for at least two years. They had fully weaned off antidepressants prior to the study; which allowed researchers to ensure they were only gauging the effects of the mushrooms on their depression symptoms.
Doses were given two weeks apart, and by the end of the study, 67% of the 24 participants showed a 50% reduction in symptoms after one week. At the two-week follow-up, that figure rose to 71%.
What Are the Benefits of Microdosing?
When you microdose psilocybin, you take a small quantity every few days. We suggest an active or casual schedule depending on your needs. For the active user, you would consume one of our 100mg or 200mg packs for four days, then take three days off.
Casual consumers can take 100 or 200mg of psilocybin once every three days. We suggest this method for a newcomer to magic mushrooms. If you’ve never tried psychedelics before, make sure you ease into it.
Flexibility is one of the greatest benefits to taking psychedelics for depression. You don’t have to worry about taking pills every day or worry what will happen if they don’t work.
You aren’t plagued with all their mind-numbing side-effects or forced to deal with getting used to yet another brand name. You get to customize your schedule to fit your needs and determine what’s most beneficial to you.
Typically, microdosing uses roughly 1/10 or 1/20 of a regular dose of psilocybin. In addition to alleviating depression, some of the benefits of psychedelics include:
- Better focus and concentration
- Enhanced creativity
- More energy
- Less mood swings
- A general feeling of happiness and calm (aka all the good vibes)
Everyone’s experience is different, but the positive feelings we’ve all shared are undeniable. That’s the beauty of shrooms — they aren’t one-size-fits-all, lab-made solutions. They’re a natural gift that brings us closer to ourselves.
Are there side-effects to microdosing magic mushrooms?
As with any drug or medication, some users experienced mild side-effects. Because micodoses are so small, there is no major risk factor. However, if you are currently taking antidepressants, antipsychotics or any other prescription meds, you should not take psilocybin in any form.
Creating a depression treatment plan should be taken seriously and with medical supervision. Let your doctor know you’re interested in microdosing and see whether it’s the right choice for you.
Once you’ve got the green light, you can start with a small dose, like 100mg of our Schedule35 blend. While we strive to create products that only leave you feeling good, some people do experience drawbacks.
Side-effects of microdosing psychedelics for depression may include:
- Heightened mood sensitivity
- Increased anxiety
- Nausea and stomach issues
- Worse mood or stronger symptoms
To help prevent any of the challenges of psilocybin, we suggest taking a small dose and working your way up. Less is more, after all. And the goal isn’t to take as much as possible.
The real goal of taking psilocybin for depression is to help you feel better and and more fulfilled. Depression can cause you to become a stranger to yourself, so you deserve treatment options that bring real results.
If you’ve been going through therapists and SSRIs for years, microdosing in particular could be the breakthrough you’re after.
Talk to your doctor about microdosing, and make sure it’s safe for you to take psilocybin as a treatment. If you’re currently working with a therapist, bring them up to speed, too. Microdosing isn’t a magic cure, but it can be the helping hand you need to start making better progress in tackling depression.
Once you’re ready to start dosing, we’ve got your back.