Psychedelics VS Antidepressants: The Difference and can you mix them?

Is it okay to go on a psychedelic trip if you take antidepressants? What is the difference between psychedelic therapy and traditional methods?

psychedelic therapy vs antidepressants pharma
Psychedelic Therapy vs Antidepressants — Foto de Towfiqu barbhuiya na Unsplash

Psychedelic therapy, is it better than traditional methods of pharmaceutical antidepressants when dealing with psychological issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD? Well, it depends. Both come with advantages and disadvantages and we need to have a good look at each case individually before making a judgment. Nevertheless, in the last decades, science has been revealing the potential of psychedelic therapy completely change how we deal with these issues.

People often ask me if they can go on a psychedelic retreat or start microdosing if they are taking antidepressants, and the answer usually is: “Let go of the Taboo and ask your doctor”. Nevertheless, based on the resurgence of psychedelic research in the last few years, science points to it being relatively safe. The big issue is that most pharmaceutical antidepressants do interact with psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushroom) and LSD.

Some types of pharmaceutical antidepressants make the effects of the entheogen stronger, while other types of antidepressants make it less effective. In research labs, volunteers are asked to discontinue their antidepressant medication at least two weeks before the ceremony. This is made with the attention of a health professional.

When I worked in Amsterdam selling legal mushrooms, people would often come to the shop and tell me that they consumed psilocybin mushrooms but felt absolutely nothing. Then, they tried again with an even higher dose, and still nothing, or almost nothing. More often than not, this person was taking some medication that interacted with our serotonin receptors, rendering the psychedelic substance ineffective.

Which One Is Better?

They are both two approaches that may work in different cases. The traditional antidepressant method is to have the patient consume a pharmaceutical substance on a certain schedule (usually every day) in order to reduce emotional imbalances. However, this approach causes the participant to feel emotionally numb. In the case of a patient that struggles to go through their days, because they struggle with the symptoms of their psychological issues, this approach can be appropriate.

Pharmaceutical Antidepressants: Suppress feelings and emotions in order to work with inner issues during the therapy sessions;

Psychedelic therapy requires only a few doses (if not only one single dose) and the sessions are at least 15 days apart. Most of the long-term benefits of the psychedelic experience come after the effects are over in the stage of integration when the participant reflects on the lessons and insights and works on ways of applying them to their sober lifestyle. This means that the participant in psychedelic therapy has less exposure to the drug in comparison with the pharmaceutical antidepressant strategy.

Beyond that, psychedelics have shown a positive side-effect profile, especially when compared to most popular antidepressants. In addition to requiring less exposure, psychedelic substances are also relatively safer and less impactful on the patient’s mood, feelings, and daily life. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the psychedelic experience has the incredible power to bring deep inner issues to the surface, sometimes things that we didn’t even know existed inside of us. This can be challenging, and this is why it is important to have a health professional or an integration coach after the psychedelic experience. Check our Psychedelic Integration Coaching program if you are interested in having support in your journey.

A different approach

Having said all of this, we have arrived at the main point and the most significant difference between antidepressants and psychedelics and it is that they fundamentally bring a different approach to dealing with psychological issues. While antidepressants numb feelings and emotions, psychedelics work to bring inner issues to the surface in a non-judgmental way so that they can be understood, accepted, and integrated into the participant’s life.

The idea that we have to approach our problems instead of avoiding them is the main difference between classical methods of dealing with psychological issues. This coupled with the minimal exposure and positive side-effect profile, makes psychedelic therapy a brilliant candidate for the mainstream method of dealing with major psychological problems. However, this may not be the best healing for everybody, so it is important to explore this world with the help of health professionals or psychedelic professionals.

If you are preparing for your next psychedelic experience or you need support maximizing the benefits of microdosing, check our Psychedelic Preparation Program and our Microdosing Program on the Cabbanis website.



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