Can you take shrooms on antidepressants?
Many people who want to take magic mushrooms are already on a prescription and want to know whether their medication is safe to combine with psychedelic substances.
Although psilocybin has been shown to effectively treat depression and a number of other mental health conditions, there are some antidepressant medications that have dangerous or undesirable interactions with the substance.
Synthesis are not medical health professionals and we recommend always checking with your healthcare provider before mixing any psychedelic with your medications. However, below is a guide to what we know about some of the most common medications, and the risky combinations of psilocybin and antidepressants that you should avoid.
How does psilocybin work?
Psilocybin is the main psychoactive component of psychedelic mushrooms, also known as “shrooms” or “magic mushrooms.” Ingesting psilocybin, in the form of mushrooms or truffles, produces an intense psychedelic experience that lasts several hours.
Psilocybin works by altering several different neurotransmitter systems in the brain. It activates serotonergic receptors on neurons, causing several brain systems to significantly change, and a wave of unique excitatory activity to spread throughout the main perceptual centers of the mind.
Psilocybin has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms in people suffering from severe depression, and these positive changes last longer than typical treatments.
However, most typical antidepressants also work on the serotonergic system, so there is a risk of overstimulating the body if you combine psilocybin with certain medications.
Can you take shrooms on an SSRI?
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medications for depression, OCD, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. Some of the most well-known SSRIs include:
- Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat)
- Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)
SSRIs work by preventing the clearance of excess serotonin from the brain, meaning that serotonin levels are temporarily boosted.
Since we don’t know exactly how this boost in serotonin levels has an antidepressant effect, it’s hard to anticipate how SSRIs might interact with psilocybin. However, since both substances work on the serotonergic system, there is likely to be some sort of overlap.
Some people report that SSRIs can reduce the effects of classic psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, and DMT). However, others report no difference.
Can you take shrooms on an SNRI?
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are a class of antidepressant medications that boost both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Similarly to SSRIs, their mechanism of action is largely unknown. Some typically prescribed SNRIs are:
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Milnacipran (Ixel, Savella)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Just like with SSRIs, we would expect SNRIs to overlap with the effects of psilocybin. However, there are no reports of serious adverse effects of combining the two. If anything, taking SNRIs appears to reduce the effects of psychedelics – but you should not start with a higher dose.
Can you take shrooms on a MAOI?
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of substances sometimes used as antidepressants, or in the treatment of anxiety disorders. They work by preventing the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters – this includes dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The result is a boost in the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain.
Common MAOI medications include:
- Bifemelane (Alnert, Celeport)
- Caroxazone (Surodil, Timostenil)
- Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
- Metralindole (Inkazan)
- Moclobemide (Aurorix, Manerix)
- Phenelzine (Nardil)
- Pirlindole (Pirazidol)
- Selegiline (Eldepryl, Zelapar, Emsam)
- Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
- Toloxatone (Humoryl)
Since MAOIs affect the levels of serotonin in the brain and body, and psilocybin works through the serotonergic system, it is likely that combining the two will have additional unintended effects. There is the small possibility of serotonin syndrome if MAOIs are combined with psilocybin. As such it is advised to avoid taking large doses of psilocybin if you are taking MAOIs.
However, some people have reported that combining MAOIs with classic psychedelics reduces the effect of the psychedelic. As always, it is recommended to start with small doses.
Note: mixing MAOIs with MDMA has potentially fatal effects as the risk of serotonin syndrome is much higher. Do not mix MAOIs with MDMA.
Can you take shrooms on a TCA/TeCA?
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Tetracyclic Antidepressants (TeCAs) are medications that are less commonly seen in Western medicine due to the preference for so-called “third generation” antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs).
Some of the most well-known TCAs and TeCAs are:
- Amineptine (Survector, Maneon)
- Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- Amitriptylinoxide (Amioxid, Ambivalon, Equilibrin)
- Amoxapine (Asendin)
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
- Dibenzepin (Noveril, Victoril)
- Dimetacrine (Istonil)
- Dosulepin (Prothiaden)
- Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Lofepramine (Lomont, Gamanil)
- Maprotiline (Ludiomil)
- Melitracen (Dixeran, Melixeran, Trausabun)
- Mianserin (Tolvon)
- Mirtazapine (Remeron)
- Nitroxazepine (Sintamil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl)
- Noxiptiline (Agedal, Elronon, Nogedal)
- Opipramol (Insidon)
- Pipofezine (Azafen/Azaphen)
- Protriptyline (Vivactil)
- Setiptiline (Tecipul)
- Tianeptine (Stablon, Coaxil)
- Trimipramine (Surmontil)
TCAs and TeCAs work in a similar way to SNRIs, by boosting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. However they also activate a wide range of additional receptors, and also block some ion channels, contributing to their dangerously diverse range of side-effects.
Since TCAs and TeCAs have a less sophisticated effect on physiology and have been known to cause deaths by their effects on the heart90094-3/pdf), it is not recommended to mix these with psilocybin. The psychedelic experience is intense, and it is not wise to combine any substance that affects your heart or physiology with psilocybin.
Lithium is often given as a mediator in combination with TCAs. Numerous reports suggest that Lithium, when mixed with psychedelics, can cause fatal seizures or heart attacks. Do not mix psilocybin and Lithium.
Can you take shrooms on an NRI/NDRI?
Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (NRIs) and Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) are substances used in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine (or norepinephrine and dopamine, in the case of NDRIs) available in the brain.
NRIs have mixed evidence of effectiveness, and it’s possible that some are less effective than placebo.
Some classic NRIs and NDRIs include:
- Atomoxetine (Strattera)
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Reboxetine (Edronax)
- Teniloxazine (Lucelan, Metatone)
- Viloxazine (Vivalan)
It is unknown if psilocybin and NRIs/NDRIs interact. As far as we know, psilocybin does not significantly affect the norepinephrinergic or dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems. However, to be safe, begin with a standard dose of psilocybin.
Can you take shrooms on an SMS/SARI?
Serotonin Modulators and Stimulators (SMSs) and Serotonin Antagonists and Reuptake Inhibitors (SARIs) are two classes of antidepressant medications that are similar to SSRIs, but in addition to boosting serotonin levels in the brain, also activate (or deactivate) a number of additional serotonin receptors.
As such, these medications have more complex effects on the serotonergic system. Medications include:
- Trazodone (Desyrel)
- Vilazodone (Viibryd)
- Vortioxetine (Trintellix)
Since these substances will affect the serotonin system in a potentially less predictable way than SSRIs, it is best to be cautious when combining with psilocybin. Begin with a lower than normal dose if you decide to combine them.
Can you take shrooms on Lithium?
Lithium is often given as a mediator in combination with TCAs, but can also be prescribed on its own for the treatment of depression.
Its mode of action is unknown, but there are multiple reports of Lithium being a dangerous substance to combine with psychedelics. It has been reported to cause seizures, heart failure, and even death.
We advise staying away from psilocybin if you are taking Lithium.
What about other substances?
If your antidepressant isn’t listed here, or if you are curious about non-antidepressant interactions with psilocybin, we first recommend contacting your healthcare provider.
In addition, this chart shows the known interactions between substances and psychedelic substances and highlights the dangerous ones that you should certainly avoid.
How do i know if I am able to attend synthesis?
We are the world’s first psychedelic retreat to be able to make claims for the effectiveness of our programme, based on scientifically-devised findings. But, even though our data speaks volumes about the quality of the Synthesis retreats, this does not render us a psychedelic-assisted therapeutic clinic. Crucially, for full disclosure in this regard, it is important to note that, although our participants generally display an increase in positive mood, just like patients who are treated with psilocybin-assisted therapy for depression in the clinical sphere do, Synthesis does not claim to treat depression, and, furthermore, is at present unable to offer our retreat to people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis.
We welcome everyone to apply and go through our health screener. Our medical team will get back to you shortly about your options.