Some friends that I have met over the years who are into psychedelic drugs such as 'shrooms, LSD, and ecstasy (aka "molly") seem to be considerably happier people - they have lots of friends, they go to lots of parties, and seem to always have a jam-packed social life outside of work. They don't seem to experience the ups and downs - and sometimes prolonged periods of sadness - that non-users go through.

The article linked here:


discusses a bit about the positive behavioral effects such drugs can have on people who have crippling anxiety or are suffering through PTSD.

Can psychedelic drugs cure depression?

  • You need to define what you mean by "cure depression". Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 3:41
  • 2
    We need a better example of notability. The cited article doesn't make the claim, just that it might be the case in the future.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 5:56
  • Given your opening paragraph, it might be worth noting that the answers here mainly focus on controlled treatments by professionals (ie not the effects of recreational use, which likely is performed in a less structured manner and without taking contraindications into account).
    – tim
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 15:44
  • Google "Spring Grove Experiment" for some background going back to the 60s.
    – user8356
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


Firstly, depression can be treated- sometimes into remission, but is not curable.

Psychedelics were explored as treatments for a many mental disorders including PTSD and depression by many reputable psychologists before prohibition began. Between 1945 and 1967, over 1000 peer-reviewed clinical papers were published regarding psychotherapy using psychedelics. These studies indicated clinically significant results for the treatment of: Neurotic Disorders, addiction, and fear of death in patients with terminal illnesses. According to the (albeit pro psychadellic) source linked above, "All available surveys agree that therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs is not particularly dangerous."

More modernly, psiolcybin is being explored as a potential treatment for depression, anxitey, OCD, and addiction1, 2

Repeated clinical treatments of ketamine have been shown to increase rates of abstinence for patients dependent on heroin.

According to this paper, liked previously, long term non clinical use of psiocybin is associated with decreased rates of suicide.

  • Welcome to the site, nice first answer. You may spot that more recent questions which were of the quality of the one you answered would likely have been closed until they'd been edited into shape. Commented May 15, 2020 at 2:17
  • 2
    "mental illnesses are treated, not cured" Do you have a reference to that? For example, aren't phobias commonly cured?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 3:35
  • @Oddthinking You are correct. I've modified my statement to reference only depression and added a source.
    – Travis
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 0:20

Treat not cure. Ketamine is currently the most investigated [psychedelic] drug as a rapid anti-depressant. Several ketamine derivatives have been fast tracked by the FDA.

As for the more classic hallucinogens (e.g. psilocybin and LSD), they do seem to act on various 5-HT receptor subtypes, so it's not outlandish they could work as well, but there are more serious side-effect to consider.

  • 1
    @LangLangC: I mean not everyone wants to get trippy from an antidepressant. That's a possible but not guaranteed effect of ketamine, but virtually guaranteed with "classic" hallucinogens like LDS or psilocybin. Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 21:53
  • 1
    My only exposure to ketamine is as a battlefield anestetic. There were studies that demonstrated that wounded who recieved pain killers like morphine or ketamine after being wounded had lower rates of PTSD. That was assumed to be more credited to the shorter and blunted duration of the pain and not as a primary effect of the drugs themselves.
    – TCAT117
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 17:42
  • @TCAT117 I wonder if there's anything in play similar to what's shown in this article: scientificamerican.com/article/…
    – Yisela
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 16:52

First off, most mental illnesses aren't "Cured" they are "treated." I suffer from combat related PTSD myself, and in the past struggled with depression. There have been experiments with using drugs like MDMA to enhance regular therapeutic sessions. The thing is, people in these studies aren't just dropping 3 tabs of acid or getting blitzed off their ass on E like they were going to an EDM festival. There is very solid research showing that abusing drugs actually worsens the severity of depression and PTSD in exchange for a short term escape. The studies using psychedelic drugs as a part of treatment for depression and PTSD utilize extremely low doses of MDMA or psychedelic drugs. The object is not to get high and go on a trip, but to dose the individual juuuuust high enough to loosen their inhibitions and maybe become comfortable enough to talk to a therapist about the things they normally wont discuss. The psychedelics used aren't "curing" anything, they are simply a tiny nudge to help the person open up to their therapist more.

The problem is, that a researcher says "I gave this guy 1/90th of the dose a party goer normally takes and he had an easier time talking to his therapist" and suddenly groups like VICE news and a bunch of other stoner-centric-networks are misquoting the study with headlines like "HEY! OUR FAVORITE DRUGS CURE PTSD AND DEPRESSION!" Its really just an effort to justify their favorite hobby. If you want to drop acid or E and go clubbing, I think its unhealthy, but power to ya. Have fun, drink water, have a designated sober person to supervise and be safe out there. If you want to use it to cure depression and PTSD, you need to see a therapist, not a drug dealer.

Heavy drug use, including psychedelics is devastating for people with PTSD or depression and has been credited as a contributing factor to the high rate of crippling mental issues suffered by returning Vietnam war veterans. I have had several former squad mates develop crippling drug and substance abuse issues in an attempt to "cure" themselves, and it is not pretty. The answer is therapy by a licensed and accredited professional, as nice as it is to envision a magic pill you could swallow to make yourself instantly better, its just not the reality of how mental health works.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .