Microdosing for Depression - Latest Research Reveals Interesting Findings

Mushroom microdosing has plenty of anecdotic evidence pointing to its therapeutic effects. A vast amount of people have microdosed psilocybin and attested to its many benefits. However, we all know that anecdotic evidence isn’t exactly high on the credibility scale. Science is much more believable, especially when it comes to studies supporting a certain position.

We beg the question – is there scientific evidence showing the anti-depression effects of microdosing? If you’d have asked this a couple of years ago, you’d have received close to zero pertinent answers. However, this took a change for the better with a study in 2019 that analyzed much more closely the science of microdosing and its effects on a human being.

A systematic study of microdosing psychedelics

The study published in 2019 was extended to a period of 6 weeks, during which all the involved microdosers would report their daily ratings following microdosing sessions. The psychedelic substances used were psilocybin, LSD and mescaline. Furthermore, the authors of the study had the participants complete a questionnaire both before and after the 6-week period.

What they found was revolutionary, to say the least. Here’s what Vince Polito, the study’s author, had to say about his undertaking:

“Over the last few years there has been intense media interest in microdosing. There are thousands of news stories and personal accounts online that describe a wide range of benefits associated with microdosing but there is very little scientific evidence on the topic. We wanted to see whether these claims were justified or whether the effects of microdosing could be explained by expectations or placebo.”

According to the study, most of the 98 participants reported the following short-term benefits during the days they microdosed:

  • Intense feelings of joy and happiness
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased productivity
  • More focus
  • A strong feeling of connectedness
  • Heightened propensity for contemplation

This was not all, however. The most important findings were the long-term benefits of microdosing over the 6-week period. Therefore, the participants reported these benefits at the end of the testing period:

  • Decreased depressive manifestations
  • Increased attention span and focus
  • Reduction in stress

However, the study also emphasized a few of the downsides to microdosing that a few participants reported. Apparently, microdosing also slightly increased the neuroticism of some participants. In people with already high levels of neuroticism, microdosing led to the experience of unpleasant emotions. This would signify a limit to the beneficial aspects of microdosing on this particular category of people.

At the end of the day, this study managed to establish a fairly stable correlation between microdosing and the decrease in depression. Moreover, to ensure that this anti-depression effect wasn’t only a self-imposed placebo result of the participants’ expectations, the authors also conducted another study to disprove this. Which they did, in the end.

They found out that the microdosers’ expectations of their experiences during microdosing days don’t match up to the actual effects during the study. Vince Polito had this to say:

“We also looked at people’s beliefs around microdosing and found that although people did have strong predictions about what they thought would happen, these beliefs did not match the actual psychological changes we saw when we tracked the experience of microdosers. This indicates that it was not just expectations that explain our results.”

Why do people resort to microdosing to treat depression?

Depression and other mental health issues are some of the lead problems that people are confronted with in the world. They aren’t to be underestimated and the scientific community does its best to address those issues. However, things don’t always go according to plan, and science has its limits. It’s not a secret that, while the prescribed medication for depression works for some people, others find it entirely useless.

For instance, a study performed in 2014 found out that approximately 55% of the 2219 patients they looked at had a form of TRD (treatment-resistant depression). That means that more than half of those people suffered from depression, and the recommended medication didn’t help them one bit. In fact, no medication existent today can significantly help them due to the resistant nature of their depressive issues.

In their search for alternative treatments, many people end up using microdosing psychedelic substances. This isn’t anything revolutionary or new, though. In fact, mind-altering drugs are being used in clinics already, to treat depression and PTSD. For instance, ketamine is prescribed off-label to treat depression. As long as the doses are subperceptual and you use a well-established administration schedule to avoid building tolerance, psychedelic substances should provide great therapeutic benefits.

When it comes to its effects on depression and anxiety, the chief medical officer of the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, Neeraj Gandotra, claimed that “Psychedelic research has been shown to have positive effects on depression and anxiety.” He goes on to exemplify this with a few studies that showed psychedelics like ketamine and psilocybin can treat anxiety symptoms and reduce suicidality rates efficiently.

Furthermore, studies have been performed on the populace at large in an attempt to verify the potential therapeutic benefits of microdosing psychedelics on the mental health. In 2017, a study conducted by Thomas Anderson of the University of Toronto and Rotem Petranker of the York University had some interesting conclusions. Its aim was simple – to assess the influence of microdosing on mental health.

The test subjects – 300 microdosers in the Reddit community that willingly reported their experiences with psychedelic microdosing. Apparently, most of them reported feeling fewer negative attitudes and dysfunctional behaviours during the period their microdosed. Moreover, their creativity, wisdom, and open-mindedness scores were also higher during those days they microdosed psychedelics.

What’s the conclusion?

While we can’t say that microdosing is fully backed up by science and researched studies, it’s not entirely lacking in scientific basis either. At the very least, the therapeutic benefits for mental issues have been investigated with interesting results. This will only encourage the scientific community to place more emphasis on psychedelic microdosing as a potential treatment for mental issues and depression.