Deadlines. Anxiety attacks. Burnout. Chronic fatigue. These are all terms that Gen Xers and Millennials are far too familiar with. As Americans, we tend to wear our exhaustion as a badge of honor. We’ve inherited the belief that early mornings,late nights, and being in too many places at once are what we need to make us feel successful, accomplished, and needed. Whilst overlooking that overstretching ourselves in this way also has the ability to make us feel exhausted,anxious, and a little bit depressed.
Especially in this post-COVID-19 world, we are seeing increases in diagnoses of anxiety disorders and depression. And while talk therapy and prescription medications are the most common treatment for both anxiety and depression, an increasing number of adults are turning to alternative options, including microdosing with psychedelic drugs—typically LSD or psilocybin mushrooms —to manage the stress of day-to-day existence.
Microdosing is becoming more and more popular as an alternative method to treat anxiety and depression as well as to increase productivity and creativity, not to mention spiritual awareness. In the context of depression and anxiety, microdosing is becoming a form of self-medication in which people take small, sub-perceptual doses of LSD or psilocybin mushrooms every few days or weeks to improve their moods without the risks that come with using these substances in large doses.
Limited research has been done on the practice of microdosing, and more studies need to be conducted in order to measure its effectiveness. Based on the studies that have been done as well as anecdotal reports, we’ll outline the potential pros and cons of microdosing with psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin.
Pros of Microdosing
Here are some of the positive benefits you may experience from microdosing.
You may experience increased feelings of well-being.
While the benefits of microdosing are subjective and can vary from person to person, some people report feeling more in touch with the universe and their inner-self. People have reported feeling more aware of the good things in their lives and feelings of gratitude for the simple, everyday things that often get overlooked, such as the kindness of a stranger or the feel of sunshine on their faces. Most of the research that has been done on microdosing is based on surveys. In one survey, improved mood was reported as the number one benefit experienced while microdosing.
You may experience improved workflow and productivity.
While microdosing with LSD or psilocybin, you may find it easier to focus on tasks at hand, and you may be more productive overall because of an increased ability for concentration during your day-to-day work. We all know how difficult our days can be when we’re feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks we need to complete. Some microdosers report that they are aware of their workloads, but do not feel overburdened when microdosing.
You may experience increased creativity.
Some people report that microdosing has helped them be more creative, and they feel like their minds are open to new ideas or solutions for problems in the workplace (or at home). This can help you become a better problem solver overall. Young professionals—especially in the ever-changing Silicon Valley tech field—who are ever looking for ways to stand out from their peers have turned to microdosing to give them a competitive edge in the workplace.
Microdosing may help people overcome anxiety and depression.
When it comes to depression and anxiety, there is no solid scientific evidence that can definitively assure that the effects of microdosing with psychedelics will be beneficial, but limited research indicates that it is a possibility. Microdosing appears to have the potential to be an effective treatment for depression by reducing the tendency towards rumination, which is common in people with depression and anxiety. But whilst research is limited, this still remains speculative.
Cons of Microdosing
These all seem like really great reasons to try microdosing. So why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, there are a few reasons one might choose not to microdose. Here are a few of the “cons” of microdosing.
Psychedelics are illegal in the United States and most other countries.
Purchasing and consuming psychedelic drugs is not legal in the U.S., so you might have a hard time sourcing or buying LSD or psilocybin mushrooms for the purpose of microdosing, depending on where you live. Because they aren’t regulated drugs, purchasing psychedelics can be expensive if one has to buy drugs from dealers.
This also brings up concerns surrounding the purity of a given substance. Without a proper testing kit, there is no way to know what you’re getting when purchasing illegal drugs, and it’s possible that the drug could contain other harmful substances. If a person chooses to purchase psychedelics for the purpose of microdosing or recreational use, it should always be from a trusted source and the substances should always be tested for purity before consumption.
Some people report feeling physiological discomfort on microdose day.
In a recent survey, physiological discomfort was reported as a negative side effect of microdosing. Some of the physical symptoms reported included stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue. Others reported insomnia and temperature dysregulation. While these do sound like unpleasant sensations, they were only reported in 18% of people who participated in the survey.
Some people report feeling increased anxiety or impaired energy and focus.
In the same survey, 7% of respondents reported feeling increased anxiety and 7% reported feeling lower levels of energy. Additionally, 8% reported that they were unable to focus on microdose days. These are relatively low percentages, but there is a possibility that the negative effects may outweigh the positives for some people.
It is interesting to note that many of the reported effects of microdosing fall into both the pros and cons categories. This likely indicates that set and setting also play a factor in microdosing, as well as biological predisposition. Although some studies have been done, more clinical research needs to be done in order to determine if the placebo effect plays a role in the reported effects of microdosing.
In the end, it is up to each individual to personally decide whether microdosing is a good idea for them. Each person will need to consider the pros and cons and of microdosing and decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. Scientific research on this process is only in the beginning stages, and each person’s journey is really an experiment in the effectiveness of microdosing for their intended purpose.