A growing body of evidence suggests that various psychedelics can treat depression. Recent large studies, using the psychedelics psilocybin and ayahuasca, have shown that a single moderate dose of these substances can significantly reduce depression scores. The antidepressant effect of psychedelics also seems to last for much longer than typical treatments, with reduced depression scores maintained for several months after treatment.
Scientists believe that the reason psychedelics have such a profound antidepressive effect is because of the unique way they work in the brain. Psychedelics appear to deactivate a control network in the brain called the Default Mode Network (DMN), which is normally responsible for self-reflection and maintaining a sense of self. The DMN is found to be overactive in depressed patients, perhaps linked to the repetitive and obsessive negative thoughts sufferers experience. Therefore, psychedelics, by taking control away from the DMN, may be allowing sufferers of depression to break free from negative, spiraling thoughts.
Read more about psychedelics and depression,
or read more about psychedelics and the DMN.
WORRIED ABOUT A FULL-BLOWN PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE?
All the recent scientific research into psychedelics and depression have used moderate or high doses of substances to treat patients. While truly traumatic experiences are rare with psychedelics, and even more unusual in clinical settings, many people may be put off the thought of a full-blown psychedelic trip. Admittedly, a journey into the depths of your mind is a scary prospect, and people with no prior psychedelic experience will be understandably wary.
Thankfully, there’s an option that will allow you to wade in the shallows before jumping into the deep end.
Microdosing – taking tiny quantities of psychedelics every few days – is a growing trend in the psychedelic community. Its popularity has recently blossomed thanks to interest from self-improvement enthusiasts. Most commonly, entrepreneurs use microdosing for a boost of creativity to improve their job performance, preferring to take a tiny dose of LSD twice a week than a daily dose of Adderall.
The publication of Ayelet Waldman’s book “A Really Good Day,” in which she describes how microdosing improved her marriage, mood and life, has thrown microdosing into the public eye. Now more people are interested in microdosing, not just as a tool for business and creativity, but also as a means of treating mood disorders and mental health problems.
Listen to our interview with Ayelet Waldman, author of “A Really Good Day,”
on the Psychedelia Podcast
We believe that the beneficial effects seen in large-scale research projects on psychedelics are also reflected in people who microdose, although to a lesser extent. Nothing will compare to a full-blown psychedelic experience for its raw healing power – but microdosing is a great place to start your journey into the world of psychedelics.
This guide will run through the basics of microdosing and share with you the testimonials of people who have successfully used microdosing to start treating depression and anxiety where traditional pharmaceuticals have failed.
WHAT IS MICRODOSING AND HOW DO I DO IT?
We provide many excellent resources to help you get started with microdosing – including step-by-step guides and advice on sourcing substances.
To see the basics of microdosing, have a look at our popular infographic. Microdosing means taking a sub-perceptual dose of LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, every third day, for several weeks. You should ideally be able to go about your usual routine without noticing any difference – but when you step back at the end of your microdosing regime and reflect on your experiences, you might realise that you felt better than usual, got more work done, or obsessed over details less often.
For help finding substances, we offer this handy guide which will talk you through the common ways people can get connected with their psychedelics. It’s easier than you think!
Below are just some of the anecdotal reports we’ve collected from people who have used microdosing to treat depression or anxiety. They’re almost universally positive, and as long as you find the right dose for you, we anticipate that microdosing can benefit many aspects of life.
“Microdosing helped me to focus more on positives. I was less distracted by the negativity of others. At the start I was at the same position in the negative spiral, but it felt like the poles + and – turned and I worked slowly upwards to the positive spiral, and no longer deeper down the negative hole.
As I became more positive in my attitude, the more positive feedback and experiences I gained.”
“I was going through a bad time with my previous employment, causing depression and anxiety. Subsequently, microdosing helped in my decision to leave my job and follow my dream.”
“The inner critic was silenced. I took pleasure in existing. I had greater focus. It was as if my brain was making connections faster. I felt smarter, had more physical energy and stamina. It helped me get through a depressive episode.”
“Literally everything became more beautiful in front of me, it reduced my anxiety and taught me that I’m not longer in need of it, it gave me so much focus in my life. I began to notice so much self-improvement after a couple of times microdosing LSD… microdosing also eased my anxiety and left me with extra happiness and joy and I can say it raised my self esteem level and made me remember who I am. I’m glad I went through this experience.”
“Because of a better mood overall, I had less depressed feelings and felt more compelled to actually get stuff done. More stuff getting done meant less anxiety and stress.”
“I overcame my depression with microdosing because I can consistently be productive and happy with it as a creative booster. I noticed that while thinking about myself I was more understanding of what I need to work on and how to change. It also eliminates any anxiety I get because I never used to raise my hand in class. I smoke a lot of cannabis and it’s unhealthy to overindulge. I found microdosing to make me feel the need to be productive so I smoke much less where I microdose and don’t indulge just to smoke.”
“My microdosing has been in conjunction with therapy to address my depression/anxiety issues so my positive results have been a two-pronged attack on these issues. I have had therapy by itself in the past and the results I have found this time have been much more groundbreaking for me and in a much more timely manner. There are a lot of variables with these results but I truly believe that microdosing has been an integral part of the positive outcome for these issues.”
“When I get the dose right, it is an effective anti-depressant. I can feel the depression lift. I no longer feel exhausted, but alert. I have a more calm mindset and positive mood. The pain in my chest goes. My breathing no longer feels strenuous or heavy. I am happy with what I’m doing and I’d say my way of thinking about things is more realistic and balanced, as opposed to heavily biased towards the negative and catastrophic.”
The reports we’ve gathered are overwhelmingly positive. We hope they give you some idea of the types of benefits you could see from a short microdosing regimen.
WHAT’S NEXT AFTER MICRODOSING?
While we believe that microdosing is an ideal way to become introduced to psychedelics, and perhaps wean you off antidepressants or other medications, it’s probably just a temporary solution. It’s clear from the research that the higher the dose of psychedelics, the greater the healing benefits. To truly confront your issues at the root, you’ll need to explore the possibility of a full-blown psychedelic experience.
Hopefully, after a microdosing regimen, you’ll be less apprehensive about going on a psychedelic journey. You’ll be familiar with the general feel of psychedelics, albeit at the more subtle end of the perceptual spectrum. A good idea might be to try a slightly higher dose one day (while comfortable and at home) to get more familiar with the sensations and introspection you might experience with a large dose.
Before taking a ‘therapeutic’ dose of psychedelics, you should be well prepared. We have created various resources to help you prepare for a psychedelic experience:
You should always consider these factors when preparing for a psychedelic experience.
Read our essential guides on your drug of choice to learn everything you need to know.
Access Third Wave’s Psychedelic Directory for a complete list of trusted psychedelic therapists.
Remember, we’re not medical professionals, and it’s best to talk to your doctor before listening to any other advice. Psychedelics are powerful drugs and should be treated with respect and care. If you have a family history of psychosis, it’s best to avoid large doses of psychedelics.
Good luck, and happy microdosing!
Note: microdosing carries a potential heart risk if continued for long periods of time. See this article for more details.
If you’re interested in microdosing with psilocybin, check out our Microdosing Course. We’ll guide you through the basics—then dive much deeper, helping you tailor your routine to meet your personal goals.