Using LSD while on antidepressants is dangerous. The combination can lead to serotonin syndrome, which can be deadly, and hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a hallucinogenic drug that was once a popular drug of 1960s counterculture. It was even used to treat certain types of psychiatric disorders.
LSD was first produced in the 1930s as an attempt to develop drugs to address issues with childbirth.
It became a major player in the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s due to the drug’s alleged mind-expanding properties. It also has been researched as a potential therapeutic drug to treat various psychological issues, including depression, anxiety, and stress.
The current legal status of LSD forbids private individuals from possessing it, doctors from prescribing it, and any medicinal use or recreational use of the drug. It is classified as a Schedule I by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Is LSD Addictive?
LSD is a very potent substance. In extremely small amounts, it can produce significant psychoactive effects.
While repeated use of the drug may result in tolerance to its effects, LSD is not believed to produce physical dependence. It is not considered to be a significant drug of abuse today.
The majority of individuals who use LSD will often discontinue use on their own and without significant issues.
There is little evidence to support the assumption that long-term use of LSD increases the risk for one to develop psychotic issues later in life.
There are no reliable reports that overdosing on LSD alone can be fatal. However, the effects of the drug — including hallucinations, dissociative experiences, and a loss of reasoning — can make susceptible individuals vulnerable to accidents or poor judgment, which can lead to fatalities.
What are Antidepressant Medications?
Antidepressant medications are primarily designed for the treatment of clinically significant depression.
There are several different classes of these drugs, but they fall into three primary categories.
- Drugs that are specifically designed to decrease the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
- Drugs that reduce the reuptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters back into the neurons. Examples are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac (fluoxetine) and other drugs that inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and some other neurotransmitters like Effexor (venlafaxine).
- Medications that do not significantly work on serotonin but instead primarily affect other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, dopamine reuptake inhibitors like Wellbutrin (bupropion), and the newly approved treatment for depression, ketamine.
Is LSD an Antidepressant?
LSD is not classified as antidepressant medication, but it does appear to have potential as a treatment for depression. It is believed to affect numerous transmitters in the brain, including serotonin.
There is not a great deal of research that has investigated the effects of combining LSD with traditional antidepressant medications. However, some potential issues may occur when one uses LSD while on antidepressant drugs.
Is Serotonin Syndrome Dangerous?
Serotonin syndrome (SS) is a potentially lethal condition that occurs when certain types of antidepressant medications are taken with other drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain.
It most often occurs when people take two different antidepressants or different classes of antidepressants. It may also occur when a person taking antidepressant medication uses any substance that increases serotonin in the brain.
What are the Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome?
There are various symptoms of SS. The most common ones typically begin within two hours after the interaction occurs.
- Mental status changes, such as hallucinations, delirium (confusion, hyperactivity or hypoactivity, pressured speech, or manic-like behavior), agitation, and others
- Increased reflexes, restlessness, rigidity in the muscles, tremors, shivering, and other physical symptoms
- Increased respiration, irregular heartbeat, fever, flushing, tearing of the eyes, diarrhea, and hypertension
Serotonin syndrome can be fatal.
LSD use, in combination with any of the antidepressants that increase levels of serotonin in the brain, may produce SS. Using LSD with MAO inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or any kind of antidepressant medication that inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and another neurotransmitter in the brain could lead to the syndrome.
Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
A very small number of individuals who had previously used hallucinogens like LSD are known to experience “drug flashbacks,” which can occur a long time after the drug use has stopped.
A recognized disorder, hallucinogen-persisting perception disorder (HPPD), occurs when these flashbacks cause the person significant distress and/or dysfunction. There are case studies of individuals who have experienced this.
The disorder has no specific protocol to address it, but it can be treated with medications and behavioral treatments.
When a person is on antidepressant medications and uses LSD, other potential interactions may occur due to the enhancement of some of the side effects of antidepressant medications.
These Include Potential:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety and/or mania
- Increases in blood pressure
- Exacerbation of depressive symptoms while under the influence of LSD
- Increases in suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Again, the long-term effects of combining LSD with antidepressant medications are not well studied. Still, it can be assumed that chronic use of LSD, while a person is on antidepressant medications, will result in alterations in the neural pathways in the brain, particularly in the serotonin system. The long-term effects of these alterations are not well understood.
Using LSD on Ketamine?
Ketamine is a drug that produces some of the effects that LSD produces, including potential hallucinations and dissociative experiences, or feeling as if one is detached from their body, as if things are not real, or as if nothing matters.
When ketamine is given for depression, it is given in very small doses and only under the strict supervision of a physician. It is typically not an extended treatment.
Nonetheless, if you use LSD in combination with ketamine, you may have more vivid experiences of hallucinations and dissociative effects that can be potentially disturbing.
While clinical research on the effects of combining LSD with specific types of antidepressants is not well developed, it is clear that potential dangers are associated with the practice.
Because LSD is a banned substance, it should not be used for any purpose.