ELI5, How DMT helps with depression?



ELI5, How DMT helps with depression?

In: Biology

Two super important things to note: 1) Dimethyltryptamine being used to treat depression is currently still in its testing stages, so it would be disingenuous for me to say it ‘definitely does’ cure anything. But more importantly, 2) it will, regardless, vary patient to patient. Different drugs effect different people differently. Brain’s complicated. That’s just how it is, so even if it does show positive effects, it’s up to the medical professional to determine it.

That being said, dimethyltryptamine is a seratonergic. Clinical depression is more or less a serotonin imbalance in the brain, and DMT, as a psychedelic, has been found to work within serotonin receptors.


The key difference, however, is that DMT’s effects are considerably shorter than SSRI’s, SNRI’s, or even psilocybin. So what comes from this study is really up in the air in terms of long term effectiveness for now.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I’m basing everything I’m saying off of anecdotal data from my own, er… “research”. But for the purposes of what I’m saying you’re a 5 year old, so… yeah. This’ll all work out.

In my experience, depression (whatever root chemical causes may be underlying it) is often marked by a cycle of negative thinking. Depression is often self-reinforcing – you’re depressed, which makes things go poorly in your life, which makes you feel worthless, so you get more depressed, which makes things go worse in life, and you somehow feel even MORE worthless, so you get more depressed… and it just keeps going like that.

Hallucinogens can help to break that cycle. They can help give a depressed mind some perspective – not to mention probably some of the serotonin that it’s starved for. After even a short exposure to hallucinogens (like you get with DMT) when I was depressed, I would find my attitude improved. The 2-3 weeks following the first time I tried acid (in my 30s) was an amazingly positive time for me because I would find myself thinking my old, negative thoughts and actually catch myself at it and correct for it. That was not something I could normally do – that was a direct result of my experience that night, somehow. Whatever else the chemicals are actually doing in the brain, anything that helps breaking the cycle of depression is worth some serious research in my book.