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Microdosing for Seasonal Depression
Citation:   katalyst. "Microdosing for Seasonal Depression: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp110358)". May 18, 2017.

0.15 g oral Mushrooms
      Pharms - Gabapentin
There are a few resources on the internet about microdosing with psilocybin, but none that provide guidance on how to approach it if you have bipolar disorder. Now that I've run this experiment on myself, I decided I would add my anecdote into the mix, hoping that it will help someone out in a similar situation.

For context: I have a diagnosis of Bipolar II and PTSD, have had both since I was a teenager, and am actively in therapy and taking medication for it. My medications include Trileptal (a mood stabilizer), Adderall (to help offset the cognitive dulling from the Trileptal), prazosin (used off label to help with the nightmares), and gabapentin (for migraines). I cannot take anti depressants of any kind – they result in rapid mood cycling that gets progressively worse until I am taken off of them.

I have gotten seasonal depression every year of my life from around November until April, without exception. I stop dreaming in color, stop caring about work, and want to sleep all the time. Suicidal thoughts become more frequent and intense, and I cry nearly every day. It becomes difficult to eat well, exercise regularly, and maintain relationships with others.

The winter from 2015-2016 was the worst I've ever experienced, so I had been investigating various ways to cope with SAD. Some, like anti depressants, were not an option because they would induce mania, as were most things that result in elevated levels of serotonin – Sam-e, 5-HTP, St. John's Wort, etc. There are some safer natural remedies, so I tried those first - exercising regularly, going outside during daylight hours, and supplementing with magnesium, omega 3, and vitamin D. I also tried using a light box, which didn't help, and resulted in an unpleasant mixed mood where I constantly felt angry and irritable.

I consulted my psychiatrist, who had me try Lamictal, which is a mood stabilizer that has anti-depressant like properties – this did not help my mood, and also increased the frequency and severity of my migraines. Their last and only suggestion was to try adding an anti-psychotic to the mix. I have taken antipsychotics in the past, and they did not help with depression, so I did not feel that this was a useful suggestion.

I am giving this excruciating level of detail to make it clear that microdosing was a last resort. If you have bipolar disorder, I strongly recommend trying other approaches, including medication, before microdosing, since I found that for me, personally, it came with a risk of inducing mania, until I figured out the right dose and schedule.
it came with a risk of inducing mania, until I figured out the right dose and schedule.

Here are the detailed notes I took this past winter on effects/dose/date. They are incredibly boring, so if you are looking for a summary, feel free to skip to the end, I have placed it there.

October 15th: 0.2 grams, measured with what turned out to be a very inaccurate scale.
Experienced mild euphoria for the first two hours, but leveled off after.
Mood dropped around 7 hours after dosing, at sunset.
Mildly dilated pupils.
Felt FANTASTIC the morning after.

October 22nd: 0.19 grams, measured with a much better scale.
I suspect the first dose was much more than .2 grams, because this time I did not experience the sweaty palms, eye dilation, and euphoria. I also did not have my mood drop at sunset. I felt “down” the day after, but the second day after I was happy and had energy.

October 28th: 0.19g
I moved the dose closer this time because I had a serious mood drop back to normal winter levels on the 27th. Experienced sweaty palms, but no euphoria or eye dilation. I also had some very weird, irrational thoughts, which made me question whether I should consider dosing. Ultimately they were not bad enough to prevent me from continuing.

November 3rd: 0.2g
Sweaty palms, mildly increased energy, mildly schizophrenic thoughts – worried that people were watching me. Mild euphoria the day after, increased confidence and focus. I had an interview for a job that day and was able to ride the wave of energy rather than get overwhelmed by nervousness. (Typically I interview very poorly due to how nervous I get.) Woke up in the middle of the night 2 days afterwards and couldn't get back to sleep.

November 11th: 0.19g
No schizophrenic thoughts this time. Hard to say if my palms were sweaty from the dose – I had another interview so my palms would have been sweating profusely anyway. (Note: ended up getting the job). VERY IMPORTANT: Daylight Savings Time ended on the 6th, and I did NOT get my typical mood drop after the change. This was a pretty big deal since this is normally when my seasonal depression starts to get really bad.

November 14th: 0.20g
Shifted this dose closer because of mood drop the day before. I had sweaty palms and angry/annoyed mixed mood. I felt great the day after dosing though.

November 19th: 0.19g
Sweaty palms, but no anger. Felt happy the day I dosed, but tired the day after. Continued to have difficulty sleeping for many days afterwards.

December 5th: 0.19g
I waited much longer this time to dose – until I started to feel depressed - because I had begun to get some very noticeable hypomania, which made me nervous. I was having trouble sleeping, felt scattered, and my impulse control was not great. The day I dosed I did not experience any side effects, but I was clearly continuing to experience to hypomania, since I made out with a complete stranger about 5 days later, which is completely out of the norm for me.

December 19th: 0.19g
Sweaty palms, but no irrational thoughts. Increased focus for about 7 hours. Had an excellent day at work.

December 21st: 0.11g
This is when I started experimenting with a lower dosage, but increased frequency. The intense hypomania and difficultly sleeping that resulted from a higher dose worried me. This lower dose did not give me any of the effects that 0.2g did – no sweaty palms, euphoria, or energy. I was depressed, but did experience less severe suicidal thoughts.

December 27th: 0.11g
No hypomania, and still depressed. Suicidal thoughts were less severe though. No sweaty palms, irrational thoughts, euphoria, etc.

January 2nd, 3rd, 4th: 0.1g
Terrible mixed mood. Thoughts of self harm, mood drop at sunset. No hypomania, sweaty palms, etc.

January 8th: 0.15g
No sweaty palms or hypomania, but felt neutral and not suicidal.

January 26th: 0.15g
Same as the the 8th

From here on out, I stopped taking detailed notes, because I was no longer experiencing noticeable side effects, hypomania, or depression. All doses were at 0.15g. Here was my schedule:


Summary: The original recommendation I had gleaned from the internet of 0.2g every 4 days was definitely too much for me
The original recommendation I had gleaned from the internet of 0.2g every 4 days was definitely too much for me
, and caused intense hypomania, bordering on full out mania. The sweet spot for me was 0.15g, every 2 weeks. If you have bipolar, I recommend trying out 0.1g first, maybe even lower, and going from there. It is a bad idea to try this at all if you are not taking a mood stabilizer. There is a very real risk of causing mania with this if you are not careful!

It is very important to have an accurate scale, and it's worth noting that even with a good scale, you are still working with plant matter, which is difficult to titrate, and there will be differences in the strength. As a precaution, I typically dosed on my days off rather than work days. (I did end up microdosing a few times on days I had work though, with no ill effects.)

At higher doses (~0.2g) I typically experienced euphoria, sweaty palms, and a mood drop around sunset. I also found it was easier to interact with others, and was more introspective and had some interesting personal insights that I might not have had otherwise. If it did not cause hypomania, I would not have minded continuing at the higher dose.

At the dose I found to be best for me (0.15g), I sometimes felt mild euphoria in the mornings when I took it, but did not experience any of the other side effects noted above.

Overall I would consider this a huge success. This was the first winter I've ever had where I wasn't depressed – I continued to exercise, to eat well, and was able to easily maintain relationships with others. It was not a struggle like previous winters, and once I figured the proper dose out, I did not experience daily suicidal thoughts.

April 1st was my last dose, and I intend to start dosing next October on the same schedule – 0.15g every 2 weeks.

Exp Year: 2017ExpID: 110358
Gender: Female 
Age at time of experience: 30
Published: May 18, 2017Views: 22,520
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Mushrooms (39) : Therapeutic Intent or Outcome (49), Depression (15), Health Benefits (32), Retrospective / Summary (11), Various (28)

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