What are the different kinds of antidepressants?
SSRI’s and SNRI’s are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants although there are more of them (such as MAOIs).
Is it safe to take antidepressants with magic mushrooms?
It may be unsafe to take SSRI’s and SNRI’s with magic mushrooms because of the way they both interact with the serotonergic system. However, it might also be safe when both are taken at the same dose.
Is it recommended to wean off antidepressants before using mushrooms?
The overall advice is to wean off antidepressants before using magic mushrooms, even though it’s possible they might be safe together. You shouldn’t wean off antidepressants without the supervision of the doctor who prescribed them to you.
We get asked a lot of questions about whether or not it’s safe to mix magic mushrooms with antidepressants. Which is a really valid question because those with depression often seek out alternative therapy through psychedelics. The answer is long winded because there’s more than one kind of antidepressant and because a lot of antidepressants belong to classes of drugs that are known to have a lot of interactions.
The most common class of antidepressants, SSRI’s work on the human body’s serotonergic system. The problem is that a lot of psychedelics and even recreational drugs work on the very same system and excessive levels of serotonin are associated with severe and even fatal events.
That’s not to say that all antidepressants react with magic mushrooms or psilocybin the same way, or that all interactions with SSRI’s can cause this. But this starts to shed light on some of the interesting interactions between antidepressants and psychedelic drugs that users and seekers of alternative medicine should be aware of.
It goes without saying that if you’re in the group of people who are taking antidepressants but want to experiment with magic mushrooms, the most important thing to do is talk to the doctor who prescribes your antidepressants. If they aren’t friendly to the concept of alternatives, find one who is. You may be required to wean off antidepressants before using psychedelics, but this should only occur under the supervision of the professional who prescribes to you.
Mixing magic mushrooms with SSRI’s.
SSRI’s are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants because they are actually the class considered to have the fewest drug interactions. SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and as we mentioned, it works on the nervous system’s usage and production of serotonin.
The most common ones include:
- Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat)
- Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)
It’s really important to note that at this stage, there are currently no clinical trials that specifically address the interaction between magic mushrooms and antidepressants. There’s a massive gap in the understanding and it’s desperately called for.
Some researchers theorize that because psilocybin and SSRI’s work on the serotonergic system in different ways, magic mushrooms and SSRI’s might actually be complementary. However, recently, researchers discovered that magic mushrooms contain much more than psilocybin, and that they also contain an alkaloid called b-carboline. This alkaloid falls into a category of compounds called MAOI’s (monoamine oxidase inhbiitor), which are known to adversely interact with SSRI’s. However, in this study, researchers concluded that MAOI’s (if they are an MAO-B inhibitor) can be safely co-administered with SSRI’s. But for this to be safe, the SSRI dose has to be at the lower end of the therapeutic index and has to be monitored closely.
So what does this mean for SSRI takers?
It means — talk to your doctor. It seems as though there is a safe way to co-administer magic mushrooms and SSRI’s but it should be done under supervision to ensure that your SSRI dose is safe with your psilocybin dose.
Mixing magic mushrooms with SNRI’s.
SNRI’s are similar to SSRI’s except that they also work on norepinephrine as well as serotonin. They are typically prescribed when SSRI’s aren’t tolerated and might also be beneficial for people with anxiety.
SNRI drugs include:
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Given the SNRI’s work in a very similar way to SSRI’s, the same assumptions can be made about SNRI’s. There’s a possibility that magic mushrooms are safe to use with SNRI’s depending on the dose of both, but again this should be supervised by the professional who prescribes the SNRI.
Mixing magic mushrooms with Lithium and other antidepressants.
Though there are no clinical trials on the co-administration of lithium with magic mushrooms, this is not recommended. There are reports of people mixing lithium with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms and experiencing seizures and heart attacks.
Because MAOI-type antidepressants are, in fact, MAOI’s, it’s not recommended to use them with psilocybin. Psilocybin mushrooms also contain an MAOI and so it might sound counterintuitive to avoid mixing, but it’s not known to what degree MAOI antidepressants potentiate the effects of magic mushrooms or even dampen them.
For all other antidepressants, there is next to no information about interactions. For this reason, we recommend avoiding concomitant use unless you have been given the OK from your doctor, or until you are able to wean off them.
It’s possible antidepressants might dampen the effects of magic mushroom treatment.
Tryptamines, such as psilocybin, are lovers of serotonin receptors, and like we just talked about, so are pharmaceutical antidepressants. Antidepressants like SSRI’s don’t just affect serotonin levels but they also modulate and affect serotonin receptors.
Benjamin Malcolm, owner of Spirit Pharmacist hypothesizes that because of the way that SSRI’s and SNRI’s modulate serotonin receptors, that antidepressants actually dampen the potential of mushroom therapy. He offers this chart for interactions between different kinds of antidepressants and psychedelic drugs.
When you look through the chart, you’ll notice that most of the time Benjamin Malcolm recommends weaning off antidepressants and discontinuing their use at least two weeks before using magic mushrooms. He also says that prolonged, chronic antidepressant use can lead to an overall dampened effect of magic mushrooms.
Don’t try this at home, folks.
The overwhelming advice, in light of how little we know, is to wean off antidepressants before you take magic mushrooms in any kind of therapeutic fashion. Although it’s unlikely to walk yourself into any kind of fatal event, not knowing at which correct doses to co-administer the two is unsafe. Plus, you don’t know how much of a disservice you’re doing to your antidepressant treatment or your magic mushroom experience.
If you’re one of the many people who is seeking an alternative treatment for depression and wants to try psilocybin, we recommend talking to your doctor to wean off before you try magic mushrooms. It’s the safest way to dip your foot in this ocean and your overall treatment might be much better off for not mixing the two.
Have you ever weaned off antidepressants to use magic mushrooms? We’d love to hear your story — drop it in the comments.