In some contexts, LSD can yield positive effects on depression, while in others, it can be dangerous and potentially psychologically destructive.

Article at a Glance:

Points to remember about LSD and depression include:

  • LSD affects people in different ways. 
  • LSD use is different each time because the brain is so complex that no interaction is the same
  • More research is needed to learn about how LSD can affect depression
  • Buying LSD is illegal and its use is risky
  • LSD is often mixed with other drugs, making it more dangerous

The Relationship Between LSD and Depression

Drugs like LSD have unique effects. Some people might take them to feel more energy at work. Other people might take these drugs for religious reasons.

Another reason some people use LSD has to do with how it affects the brain. Researchers don’t fully understand how LSD works, but some studies suggest that the drug connects different brain regions while disconnecting others. This effect may be why LSD can have such strong effects.

Knowing how LSD affects the brain may reveal how the effects are made. The idea that it might have a positive use is not new. Soon after LSD was made, it was sold as a drug with the power to treat mental health issues.

Widespread use of LSD in the 1960s changed public opinion. Some people who took LSD felt smarter, while other people had bad trips and felt unwell. The drug was made illegal in 1968 and was targeted by anti-drug groups for years.

Today, people are curious if LSD can cure depression. The link between LSD and depression is complex. In some ways, LSD can help depression, but it can also be dangerous.

Related Topic: What is DMT

LSD for Depression Treatment

Microdosing LSD has led some people to believe the drug is useful. People like Ayelet Waldman think that small doses of LSD can help people feel better without causing hallucinations. They think that taking low doses of LSD every few days helped them fix their depression after years of therapy had no effect.

Some research suggests using LSD for depression. Studies have shown that it could help the brain grow cells and form new connections in regions that typically exhibit cell death from mental health disorders.

Experts remain unsure if LSD can help manage depression, however. Microdosing, despite its popularity, is not legal and LSD depression therapy is only available to people who sign up for clinical trials. More research is needed to reveal the results of using LSD for depression.

Studies show that LSD can provide relief to some symptoms, but nothing long-lasting. Those studies did not examine recreational LSD use. Instead, they reported on the use of pure LSD in a clinical setting.

Does LSD Cause Depression?

While many studies show that LSD has either positive or neutral effects for people who are depressed, other people who use LSD report long-term negative effects, including perceptual disturbances, anxiety and depressed mood.

The reason that LSD can cause negative effects for some people is the same reason it benefits other people. People are affected by drugs differently, so the effects may not be the same from one person to the next.

Another way LSD can cause depression is due to a bad trip. The effects of LSD are random. Some people who take it may have psychotic events. They may then have upsetting thoughts because they took the drug and reacted poorly to it.

Some people may mistake LSD trips as revealing. For example, someone might have depressed thoughts during an LSD trip and take it as proof that their negative self-image is true.

If LSD use affects you, call The Recovery Village to talk to a representative about treatment options for LSD. Call today to learn more about drug abuse and addiction treatment.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Stephanie Hairston, MSW
Stephanie Hairston received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and English from Pomona College and her Master of Social Work degree from New York University. Read more

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CBS News. “LSD: A Wonder Drug Once Again?” March 18, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2018.

Ly, Calvin, Greb, Alexandra C., Cameron, Linday P., et al. “Psychedelics Promote Structural and Functional Neural Plasticity.” Cell Reports, 23(11): 3170-3182. June 12, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2018.

UNC School of Medicine. “This Is LSD Attached to a Brain Cell Serotonin Receptor.” January 26, 2017. Accessed December 10, 2018.

Gasser, Peter, Kirchner, Katharina, and Passie, Torsten. “LSD-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated with a Life-Threatening Disease: A Qualitative Study of Acute and Sustained Subjective Effects.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(1). November 11, 2014. Accessed December 10, 2018.

Baumeister, David, Barnes, Georgina, Giaroli, Giovanni, and Tracy, Derek. “Classical Hallucinogens as Antidepressan[…]ative Clinical Roles.” Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 4(4): 156-169. August 2014. Accessed December 10, 2018.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.