SSRI’s and Magic Mushrooms
Safe together? Personal stories and a dose of healthy cynicism
The majority of the people I meet who are seeking some sort of psychedelic healing, whether it be integration and microdose support or an assisted psychedelic healing session, are on SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) for depression and/or anxiety.
They have all reached a point where their soul has begun to speak too loud to be ignored. This voice sounds like continued dissociation, numbness, lost-ness, illness and a subdued confusion about life despite the prescription “medicines” they have been on. They all want off of the SSRI’s and are curious about magic mushrooms to help them make the transition off of SSRIs and face healing their life-long depression and anxiety. I will also note that only one of them has chosen to even mention it to their doctor. All of them have been guided by that still small voice of the deep intuitive nudge that they might actually know best for what their body needs. They are ready to listen. That wisdom has also directed them to seek the kind of support necessary to help them discern safety accordingly and access their own inner healer.
Shall I mention I am not a doctor? I always suggest my clients work with their physician fully knowing that most of them won’t. We discuss the importance of personal responsibility, which is devastatingly missing in our current healing models, and is essentially a great reclaiming of one’s inner authority to guide their own life.
Can you take psilocybin when on SSRIs? The overall answer is yes. And, it depends on the individual, how long they have been on SSRI’s, their dosage and reason for taking them in the first place.
The spirit of the natural world, of the mycelium intelligence, always steps in and guides as to the best protocol with each client. I am not a maverick- totally. I simply trust the wisdom of the body and the Earth. They are the supreme healing forces and when allied by the current research and lived experience we begin to see the first glimpses of a modern, holistic healing model.
If I can teach deep listening and reconnection to the natural rhythms of life, which is essentially trauma work cuz we gotta move those other voices out of the way or sing them songs until they wanna join the healing party, aka integration of parts, then I have zero concern about my client’s healing and working with plant medicines with reverence and education.
Typically, when I begin with these clients I highly recommend microdosing and working with an integration mentor to help them address the wound that lives at the bottom of that well of depression that will begin to reveal itself slowly as the magic mushrooms work their magic. We want to be very gentle when repatterning the nervous system, especially when it has been manipulated for so long by unresolved truama and medications.
I am not opposed to anyone taking SSRIs and I never shame anyone for making that choice. Sometimes we need a bandaid until we are ready to do the healing. Sometimes being numb is the healing for a minute because the sensations are too overwhelming to find ground. But it is not a sustainable path as SSRIs don’t heal. Unless there is an immediate, acute negative effect of taking anti-depressant drugs this willingness to heal and make a shift off of them is typically revealed a bit later in life as the frenetic noise and extreme busy-ness of our 20s and 30s slows down and people are faced with the empty spaces where they can feel- what they can’t feel.
The first concern when choosing this path is always about safety. There are many studies out there you can Google and go down the rabbit hole for days. I have included three One that points to the safety and efficacy of taking psilocybin with SSRIs, another that discusses the one main potential risk to be mindful of which is serotonin syndrome and the other is inspiring for what psilocybin can do and the importance of integration support. For clarity I am not discussing other psychedelics or entheogens. I am also speaking with the assumption that someone isn’t self administering a huge dose of psilocybin without guidance and education. There are always caveats. Things to pick a part.
And, as you know, I am invested in sharing the “research” and stories from my own lived experience and what I witness first hand in my clients.
The other main concern is about efficacy. In one article the research states that taking SSRIs won’t reduce the effects of psilocybin. The nuance here is that what do they mean by “effects”? In my experience the perceptual efficacy is impacted by SSRIs. I have one client who has been on Prozac for over 30 years and takes up to 3 whole grams of cubensis mushrooms as her microdose before she senses a sub-hallucinogenic sensation in her body and nervous system. Another client who has also been on SSRIs for decades needed 4.5 grams of cubensis mushrooms (which would send me to the cleaners) for her first ever psychedelic journey in order to feel any of the psychedelic effects of expanded consciousness.
So here is what I have determined by working with clients through their integration of moving from SSRIs to magic mushrooms. Under a microscope in a lab study the research is seeing that the neuro pathways affected by SSRIs and psilocybin are responding beneficially and without interruption. Yet, translating that to a real life situation, a dynamic and mysteriously genius human body isn’t that direct.
What the science isn’t showing is the numbing and dissociation that SSRIs has on other biological responses in the body. That there are quite a few walls to break down after being on prescription drugs that the science likely won’t ever reveal because of the implications.
The question I have for my clients as I stand in the intersection between modern science and natural law is - can you trust that the magic mushrooms are working without having to feel altered? I know how deeply you want to feel, to be held by an all encompassing wisdom, to be taken over by something other than the confusion and guided in your heart. I know you want to feel it to know it is real because we are innately wired to seek and validate our own experiences in life and deeply trust our body and this Earth- and that has been taken from you and you want it back. I know. And, even though I am not supposed to want anything for you because that is projection. I want that for you. To feel pierced alive. To know your heart and therefore love in every cell of you body.
I KNOW the medicine of magic mushrooms is working on things we can never understand or feel in the moment of administration, but will show up in the most important, subtle, some not so subtle, gentle, some not so gentle, positive, lasting shifts in the nervous system as we move through our lives. What heals in the nervous system is translated to our external experiences. This is our new feedback loop. We become living proof.
Every client I have who has stuck with me, and most importantly themselves, through integration has benefited greatly.
I recently met with a client for integration session, the one who needed a near hero’s dose to feel anything. She is in her early 70s and someone whose altar I would seek. The wisdom in that woman’s body from the life experiences she has endured emanated into the entire room and I wept most of the session -tears of an old deep well in my heart that overflows when in the presence of embodied divinity. No one is special and her unique medicine is Universal light. Her journey was angelic and gentle. She really wanted to be taken away, to struggle (we are so addicted to the struggle). And as a practitioner I hold the agency to say “no more medicine” when I sense that any more would be pushing beyond trust in the process as perfect.
In our follow up session she said “Shira, I really wanted to be taken away. I was simply in gentle bliss the whole time. I wondered what it was all about and then in the last week something life changing has shifted in me. For my entire life I have worked with unworthiness. I always felt like there was this big thing I was supposed to do in my life that I wasn’t achieving and it haunted me. It caused anxiety, urgency, pressure, depression, shame. That feeling is absolutely gone and I know now in my core that my simple being alive and present to every moment is truly enough. I met the Universal love. There is nothing to do or not do and there is nothing to achieve.”
I cried again. I cry a lot. To witness someone heal a core wound changes not only her life, but mine and every life in the Universe. Her simple presence with this vibration is her achievement.
The thing about our journey together is that the whole room was full of expanded consciousness. That even though she couldn’t feel it as fully as someone who does not have a history with SSRIs, she was completely taken into expanded awareness and the cradle of Universal wisdom. She is also proof that it doesn’t have to be hard to be deep and life changing.
Not everyone taking SSRIs should jump into a full therapeutic dose as my client did above. She has a powerful and very integrated intuitive sense of her body despite being on SSRIs. I could sense her abilities and was willing to ally them, and her, in a journey.
I have intentionally used the term magic mushrooms along with psilocybin for a reason. As we begin to awaken again to the genius of our natural world to heal our deepest and most painful afflictions there will be some things to track.
When a study discusses psilocybin they don’t necessarily mean entheogenic, magic mushrooms.
Psilocybin is “an hallucinogenic alkaloid found in some toadstools”- according to the Oxford American Dictionary. I couldn’t help myself. It is a charming definition.
“Magic Mushrooms or shrooms, are a polyphyletic informal group of fungi that contain psilocybin which turns into psilocin upon ingestion. Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe.” - Wikipedia
I sense the majority of the research done on the effects of psilocybin for depression is done with the alkaloid and not the magic mushroom. Not all, but most.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in the US. And those rates are increasing. I have suffered from suicidal ideation, severe depression, life threatening addiction and complex PTSD for most of my life. I have been prescribed and have taken three different SSRIs over the course of my life that made me crazy sick. My soul has always been too strong- one of my greatest gifts and my greatest challenge. The wound and the gift are always in concert with one another.
Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics have greatly helped me step into a more expanded landscape of belonging. They helped me feel, even if it was/is big feels. I would rather feel the piercing sensations of life then be numb and therefore unable to guide myself. If I can’t guide myself, I am susceptible to domination by things that are only in service to their own power and there is already enough of inherited oppression in my DNA. Separation from source and therefore self, is at the root of the wound that causes these severe mental, emotional and then physical pathologies.
I know how important it is to heal these devastating conditions if we are ever going to reclaim a livelihood on Earth that supports LIFE in balance and harmony.
But I am concerned that the good intentions to help people heal depression with psilocybin will get caught in the overreaching net of corruption and corporate greed that is the pedestal upon which our industrial, mechanized healing model props itself.
I am concerned that psilocybin will be taken as a little blue pill, and because it has been extracted from the only intelligence that can actually HEAL the deep wounds of belonging and generational trauma, there won’t actually be healing. I know only my healing matters and I shouldn’t be so up in arms about the experience of others-like I have something to prove, some fight to win because that resolves nothing. But someone has to speak for the Earth and I guess it is me today.
Once psilocybin has been made into a pharmaceutical medicine, replicated in a lab, we have lost an essential element…
The feminine essence that holds the mysterious blueprint directing life towards healing, balance, regeneration, life- inclusivity and wholeness.
If it is created by and for the industrialized pharmaceutical reign of power it has to include oppression of the feminine body. The only way the current regime of hierarchical dominance can exist is by way of the oppressing, dissecting, numbing, depressing and compromising the feminine body. When this body is suppressed within us, every other function falls out of balance and most every expression from this imbalance looks like a wound- like depression, anxiety- like war.
I am hopeful that there are enough of us staying in touch with the importance of giving the natural order and the Earth a voice so that we can educate people on how to work with these medicines- whether in magic mushroom form or extracted alkaloid- to truly shift our paradigms of healing.
It is not so much about extracting psilocybin from a mushroom and giving it to someone that concerns me. I believe that is and will continue to be greatly beneficial if handled properly. Myself and other herbalists harvest plants and submerge them in a menstrum to extract alkaloids and constituents to make medicine. Some plants have to be broken down by various methods to avoid toxicity or discomfort in the body.
Yet, when we irreverently remove something from its body we lose the wisdom of body. Wisdom does not live in the mental realm it lives within the body. When an herbalist goes out to harvest, she does so with great attention to natural law. She carries within her a wisdom of belonging and honors the gifts of the Earth with her prayers, her gratitude and her gifts when she is supported by the medicines and foods abundantly given by Gaia.
When picking or cultivating magic mushrooms we are deeply connected to an ancestral wisdom that centers inclusivity for all Life. (That is the hope anyway). The fruiting body of a mushroom is the expression of a mysterious mychorrizal conversation between Earth and heaven. That cannot be duplicated in a lab.
My questions are these:
Once the medical establishment has likely patented psilocybin and doctors are administering it, and assuming it will have similar effects to microdosing magic mushrooms, who is helping people integrate what will rise to the surface of the emotional body for the deep healing needed for the underlying depression? The repatterning in the mind that can heal depression is only sustainable when those patterns are fed by and in alignment with the emotional body- where the true healing lives. Or will this be another blue pill that people just take to feel a little better and is that enough to make the life changes needed to heal? Will it be another bandaid?
Will patented and synthesized psilocybin contain the mysterious compounds of Earth’s wisdom that, in my opinion, are the main reason why using entheogens like magic mushrooms actually heal depression and its family of pathologies?
When we take the sacred out of the medicine we will always have an empty hole where an altar of belonging is supposed to live. Because the memory of being sacred is a large part of remembering what it is we truly belong to and are unconditionally loved by- which heals depression and addiction and anxiety…
and the feminine body and war.
Will we be given the entire picture of what we are taking, how it was made and any adverse effects so that we can make a fully sovereign choice with our own health? As I mentioned, if it was made by “the machine” it will contain an element of oppression of your intuitive guidance, your feminine body. It just is what it is. To name a thing disarms it because then choice, hopefully a different choice, around it can be made.
As people come off SSRIs with the help of psilocybin will they become dependent on psilocybin? Again, a lack of education, dedicated integration and healing support would create this chasm. Keeping people dependent makes money. Keeping people separate from their natural environments and Earth’s medicine in its wholly sacred form keeps them separate from their healing. Perpetual illness is big business.
I don’t know. I want to hold hope in my heart and I am also fiercely determined to give Gaia a voice. So much of what is sacred has been taken from us.
These medicines are sacred and deserve that reverence. Their corruption is our continued corruption. Just because someone delivers something to you does not make them a healer. Embodiment of the sacred carries a healing transmission which is why plant medicine, the Earth and a practitioner who has walked the path of prayer and has healed and seen healing with these medicines is vital for anyone seeking healing and for carrying forward a revolution in reclaiming the sacred.
Whichever path, plant or pill we choose with our healing, we “should” pray. Pray to it, put it on an altar and watch what true power in healing looks like. Because, the juxtaposition, the mystery itself that has revealed its face to me by way of plant medicine, is that there is no place the Goddess does not exist. She just needs to be named. Asked. Turned towards. Lead into gold is always an option, we just have to remember how to alchemize.
Your choice is your greatest power. Whatever you choose is what you align with and therefore you weave a story for yourself of what it is that you believe supports, nourishes and heals you.
Plant medicines take us to the edge of our initiations. Without them we are lost and forever unable to differentiate what is true and what is a veil of pain purposely put upon us. It is only as this ledge that the soul remembers its wings and guides the human to root around the Earth for the medicine to help her fly and therefore drop the weight of the lies she was told about what made her and what she is made of…
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Beautiful, Shira. I encourage you to submit this to professional journals and publications. This voice should be out there. ❤️
Loved so much, for example, "I know how deeply you want to feel, to be held by an all encompassing wisdom, to be taken over by something other than the confusion and guided in your heart. I know you want to feel it to know it is real because we are innately wired to seek and validate our own experiences in life and deeply trust our body and this Earth- and that has been taken from you and you want it back. I know. And, even though I am not supposed to want anything for you because that is projection. I want that for you. To feel pierced alive. To know your heart and therefore love in every cell of you body..."
Blessings on your work!
Beautiful and oh so true❤️