Does DMT Help With Depression and Anxiety?

Does DMT Help With Depression and Anxiety?

DMT for depression and anxiety

Despite being a controlled drug, DMT is being considered to treat mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Popularly called spirit molecule, N, N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is a hallucinogenic tryptamine drug.

DMT has no approved medical use in the United States but can be used by researchers under a schedule I research registration that requires approval from both U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

Despite being a controlled drug, DMT is being considered to treat mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

  • It is a schedule I controlled substance, which makes it illegal to possess, distribute, manufacture, and buy the drug.
  • There is a high chance for abuse and are no safety parameters surrounding the use of the drug.
  • Like other psychedelic substances, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or magic mushrooms, DMT produces an intense auditory and visual hallucinogenic experience.

What is DMT?

Dimitri or N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a white crystalline powder that can be brewed, smoked, or vaporized to have orally or snorted, or injected into the bloodstream.

  • The powder is derived from plants, such as Psychotria viridis and Banisteriopsis caapi, which are native to South America, Mexico, and some parts of Asia.
  • DMT is the active ingredient in ayahuasca, which is a traditional plant medicine from Amazonia that was believed to bring spiritual enlightenment.

The chemical structure of DMT is pretty similar to sumatriptan, which is an antimigraine drug.

DMT can be produced naturally in the body by the pineal gland.

Upon consumption, DMT can cause its effects quickly. Plant-based brews can produce effects within 20 to 60 minutes, whereas the effects of synthetic DMT can kick in about 5 to 10 minutes.

What are the side effects associated with DMT?

Upon consumption of N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the primary effects consist of intense hallucinogenic experiences that cause complete alteration of the reality around them.

Most of the effects are psychological and physical. Users describe that DMT causes brief auditory and visual hallucinations where they supposedly travel to other realms and experience an alternate reality.

The side effects that are generally associated with DMT include:

Out of all the psychedelic drugs present out there, DMT supposedly produces the least side effects. The side effects of DMT depend on the user. It can range from mild exciting experiences to frightening ones.

Can DMT be used to treat mental health problems?

Small-scale studies have produced evidence that psychedelics have therapeutic benefits in disorders that have rumination, habits, and bias as key symptoms, such as depression, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

  • A recent study indicates that N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can be potentially used to treat depression and anxiety along with therapies.
  • Findings from nonclinical studies suggest DMT can help reduce behavioral despair in the forced swim test, which is a well-recognized animal model of depression.

Due to the powerful hallucinogenic effects produced by DMT, medical professionals believe that this drug can be used for those who do not produce desirable results to conventional treatments of depression.

Psychedelic-assisted therapy may provide long-lasting relief, and because DMT produces the least side effects than other psychedelic drugs, it is the preferred choice for study.

  • The most striking positive in the use of psychedelics to treat depression is the longevity of its effects. Psychedelic-assisted therapy, based on the research evidence, is likely to have an immediate onset of antidepressant activity, which will be long-lasting for about three to six months.
  • DMT must be administered in moderation to treat depression. The drug is supposed to help improve the different pathways of the brain by activating different serotonin receptors across the cortex, which will inhibit the normal processes of unhealthy thought in the brain.
  • The pathways could be then “reset” with the help of different therapies, thus providing an opportunity for them to resettle differently.

DMT is a powerful drug that can produce hallucinations that are linked to near-death experiences. Therefore, to use it to treat mental health conditions, more research needs to be done to completely solidify the claims.

Regulations should be strictly laid down for the use of DMT. Some people may have untoward side effects, such as bad trips, worsened symptoms, or adverse effects on the heart.


SLIDESHOW

Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication See Slideshow

Medically Reviewed on 2/23/2022

References

Image Source: iStock Images

Barker SA. N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function. Front Neurosci. 2018;12:536. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088236/

Michigan Health Lab. ‘Mystical’ Psychedelic Compound Found in Normal Brains. https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/lab-report/mystical-psychedelic-compound-found-normal-brains

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Fast-Acting Psychedelic Associated With Improvements In Depression/Anxiety. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/fast-acting-psychedelic-associated-with-improvements-in-depressionanxiety