Playing around with psychedelics while you have a mental illness is never a good idea, but the relationship between plant medicines and depression is a unique story.
Depression is a tricky monster. It makes life feel like a glum hole where nothing matters, and all roads lead to dead ends. There’s no hope, no ambition, and no will to transcend this problem. Fortunately, psychedelics can break you out of this negative headspace, and they are actually quite effective at doing so.
Always exercise caution when using psychedelics as a treatment, but in saying that, psychedelics are medicines for a reason. They work on all levels of your consciousness, including your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies. If you find yourself stuck with depression and nothing seems to work, working with psychedelics might be your exit out.
What does the research say about treating depression with psychedelics?
There is still a lot we don’t know about psychedelics, due to the lack of studies on the subject. However, as more research is being conducted, naturally occurring psychedelics such as magic mushrooms, peyote, San Pedro, DMT, and Ayahuasca are slowly becoming more widely accepted as treatments for certain illnesses and disorders. They are also relatively harmless unlike many other pharmaceutical treatments, which makes them an appealing option.
The headspace induced by psychedelics can help people reconstruct their perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and general outlook about life and oneself. Psychedelics also help facilitate permanent life change, and allow you to delve into deeper levels of consciousness. They act as a powerful therapy and instigate healing on all levels of your well-being. The therapeutic and healing properties of these substances are why they are being used more regularly as an alternative treatment for depression.
Using psychedelics to treat depression is a much more holistic and traditional approach to healing. I’m not discouraging you from using modern medicine to treat depression, but in saying that, modern medicine doesn’t come without it’s problems. In most cases, modern medicine acts as a Band-Aid fix and a temporary solution, while psychedelics help with real healing.
If you’re looking for a more natural and permanent approach to changing the workings of your mind, I definitely wouldn’t dismiss psychedelics. These are powerful medicines that can help you get out of your headspace, combat the problem, and aid the healing process. They have proven to be very valuable for many things, and there is still so much more to learn about them.
Are psychedelics helpful for other forms of mental illness besides depression?
I would be very cautious about using psychedelics if you have any history of mental illness, or suspect that you do. Even though psychedelics can’t physically harm you, they can be overwhelming, and onset more problems if your mind is already vulnerable or unstable.
Psychedelics can be useful for treating depression, but they can cause big problems with some mental illnesses. Psychedelics may trigger episodes and exacerbate the problem. This is not uncommon in people who have an illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe paranoia or anxiety, or psychosis.
My advice would be to steer clear of psychedelics if you suspect that you have a mental illness besides depression. If you’re unsure, I would recommend seeking professional advice before taking any mind-altering substance.
How did psychedelics help me with depression?
When I was a teenager, I was depressed. I didn’t make many friends, I didn’t know what to do with my life. At one point, I came to an ultimatum. After years of desperation and no visible solution, I told myself that either I find a solution now, or I’m going to end my life.
I first discovered the world of personal development. Progress was slow, but it did help me reassess my life situation and gave me a glimpse of hope. My interest in personal development, and later philosophy led me to experiment with psychedelics. The more I took, the more I started to understand the therapeutic nature of them.
I started taking psychedelics regularly and became more intrigued with their effects. They started changing my ways of thinking, while some of my toxic and unhealthy programs began to lose power. The trips weren’t always pleasant, but they were eye-opening. Psychedelics forced me to confront some dark stuff that I was ignoring, which was somewhat responsible for my depression.
So I started taking more, more often, and larger doses. I had some pretty intense experiences, that’s for sure, but I still had a long way to go. Progress was gradual. Slowly, I began breaking out of many of my limiting mindsets and beliefs. The light started coming into the shadows. But I was impatient, and the process wasn’t quick enough.
One day, I decided to take an experimental dose of LSD. I was well-researched and knew that no physical harm could come to me. At one point in the trip, I fell unconscious and had an out-of-body experience. That was by far, the most intense, wonderful, and terrifying experience of my life, wrapped in a package.
I woke up as a different person that day. Suddenly, my entire perception of reality had changed, and for the better. For the first time as I opened my eyes, I felt so much love, joy, hope, and excitement for life. All of the barriers in my mind had suddenly melted away. It was an extremely free and liberating feeling, something that has stayed with me today. This was such a drastic and instant change, that it blew my mind. Depression was never seen again, and from that day, I had a new zest for life.
How psychedelics helped me get to the roots of my depression
For me, depression was due to never feeling good enough, and not living up to who I wanted to be. It was made worse by the constant loneliness of being extremely shy around people, and the feelings of desperation to be someone else.
The dismantling of my identity allowed me to reshuffle the pieces, and put them together differently. I could finally live up to that image of the ideal life I had always wanted, instead of feeling like a deadbeat. This spurred me to do Ayahuasca ceremonies in Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico, which reinforced to me that these medicines are something much more than we typically give them credit for.
I finally understood them, and why they have been used for millennia, all around the world. Psychedelics in their myriad forms are catalysts of inner change and transformation. They heal but in a very different way than modern medicine. Psychedelics work on the deeper layers of consciousness, while modern medicine only scratches the surface.
The amount that you gain from an experience depends on how deep you go into it. There is a learning curve with psychedelics. They work in a similar fashion to therapy sessions with a psychologist or counselor. It takes practice and experience to get deep into your subconscious, where the real work can be done. Likewise, with psychedelics, it takes experience to learn how your mind works, and how to work with it.
I am also not recommending ever taking a huge dose of any mind-altering substance. Always take precautions and be safe, but in my experience, psychedelics have been monumental in treating depression and changing my life for the better.
How do psychedelics treat depression?
There is still a lot of ambiguity about how psychedelics treat depression. Psychedelics do a lot more than play around with your brain’s chemistry. A big part of the medicinal and therapeutic side of them comes from their ability to alter your outlook, mindsets, and perceptions. They are more concerned about creating changes in your psychology than your physical body.
Often, depression comes from your outlook about the world, and your position in it. It can be easy to fall into patterns where you see life in a negative light, and it’s often the same outlook that perpetuates these feelings of depression. The change of perception induced by psychedelics can help you reconstruct this outlook, to see more optimism, hope, and beauty in the world.
The psychedelic experience can give you a new perspective on your life situation. They can help you look at everything from a fresh angle. These changes in perception can help people break out of their negative spirals, and help them see their life situation in a much better and healthier way.
How psychedelics facilitate inner work and healing
Depression is often caused by deep-rooted problems and traumas that have not been addressed. The more people avoid their issues instead of doing the inner work necessary to create change, the more these issues compound and mutate into more severe problems. Often, people don’t know why they’re depressed and unhappy, which means that they never end up doing the work necessary to treat their depression.
The hallucinogenic substance in psychedelics loosens up your mind and pulls your psyche apart. During the psychedelic experience, constructs such as your identity and personality start unhinging. This is a phenomenon called ego-dissolution when all of your mental constructs start to fall apart. This can be very helpful in getting you out of your negative mental space, where you can make some real progress.
As your identity begins to dissolve, you’re left with more room for a narrative. Spaciousness is created, and you finally have an audience with your thoughts and feelings, that most of us suppress. You start to forget who you are, and why you’re here, and really start questioning everything happening in your life. Instead of being glued to a biased outlook in which your depression very well might manifest, you start to see life for what it really is, and this can be a very refreshing feeling.
During a trip, you may think about different solutions to your problems, and paint things in a very different light. You might have originally avoided your problems, while psychedelics push you to confront them and find solutions to them. Instead of seeing everything as monotonous and dystopic, a different appreciation for life starts to seed in your consciousness. As long as you tender the work that’s being done on a subconscious level, and work with the medicines instead of against them, psychedelic flush up a lot of the ugliness in yourself, which gives you space to work with it.
This is where non-resistance is an important philosophy to understand, as via the path of nonresistance, psychedelics show you what you really need to see, and how you can take steps to heal yourself. This can be enough to break you out of some of these painful programs that you have been stuck in, and help you birth better outlooks, philosophies, and understandings about life, and yourself.
Psychedelics act as a mental cleanse
The reason why psychedelics are such good therapists is because they act as a mental detox. We generally have a lot of dirt in our minds which can really obstruct our roads to happiness, and make everything a lot harder. This dirt is accumulated through your life experience in the form of pain, traumas, negative events that occur in your life, and anything that hurts you.
As you never give yourself a chance to step out of your mind and give it a clean, this dirt often accumulates. People who are good at managing and processing their emotions regularly sweep out their minds and prevent this dirt from building up. For people who don’t regularly introspect, process, and do their shadow work, the dirt can build into a level of dysfunction.
Therefore, when you take psychedelics responsibly, you tend to introspect, confront your issues, and clean out your mental environment. You will tend to pay attention to your emotions, feel them, and process them. Psychedelics certainly don’t do the work for you, but they act as an aid, and facilitate a space where it’s easier to do all the mental legwork that you likely put off, or don’t even know is necessary.
How to use psychedelics to treat depression?
If you’re considering using psychedelics to treat depression, make sure that you are in a safe setting, either by yourself or with people you really trust and feel comfortable around. You should not go on the trip with the expectation of having fun or taking them for recreation. All you’re going to do is distract yourself from the therapeutic experience that you’re looking for.
Keep in mind that therapy isn’t always easy. Through this approach, psychedelics may force some pretty dark stuff out of your subconsciousness, which you very well may not be prepared to confront. That’s why it’s important to mentally prepare yourself, and acknowledge that the experience could be very unpleasant.
Start by dipping your toes in the water, and don’t go over your limits. It’s best to start with a smaller dosage and to be underwhelmed rather than overwhelmed, especially if you’re new to psychedelics. Gradually build up the dosages over consecutive sessions if you’re not experiencing as much as you wish. I would be very cautious about jumping beyond your depth because you never know what to expect, and it may be more than you’re willing to handle.
Otherwise, be safe and take care. Psychedelics are not toys. They are spiritual medicines, so treat them as such.