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Microdosing Psilocybin for Depression

Written by:

Psychedelic Registered Nurse

Conversations about psychedelics are popping up everywhere, from popular neuroscience podcasts to online presences like “Moms on Mushrooms” there is no denying that we are in a psychedelic renaissance.

Mind-altering substances, like psilocybin, are actively being researched for their therapeutic uses, despite decades of prohibition that halted all previous research efforts. One of the big areas of research and conversation is using psilocybin mushrooms to treat depression.

While this research is amazing, much of the current research fails to address the impact of taking varying doses, focusing on full psychedelic experiences or macrodoses. However, there is an ever-growing public interest in microdosing psilocybin for improved mood, creativity and focus. Microdosers routinely take micro amounts of a psychedelic substance, typically about 5-10% of a recreational dose.

Personal accounts and limited studies indicate that microdoses of psilocybin could have a positive impact on mental health. In this article, we’ll dig into some of the causes, symptoms and currently available treatments for depression, then introduce microdosing for depression and consider the safest way to incorporate microdosing practices into a treatment plan.

What is Depression?

Every human being is prone to having a bad day or two; however, clinical depression is a mood disorder defined by overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss of interest or pleasure lasting at least two weeks that create an enormous impact on our body, mind and soul, ultimately resulting in reduced ability to perform daily functions.

Common symptoms of depression may also include:

  • feelings of extreme guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • mood changes (difficulty controlling emotions, irritability or frustration)
  • changes in appetite (ranging from no appetite to binge eating)
  • unintentional changes in weight (loss or gain)
  • changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • low energy
    difficulty with memory, concentration, and decision making
  • physical manifestations (headaches, upset stomach, sexual dysfunction)

A variety of intermingling factors cause depression, including:

  • Chemical imbalance (serotonin and dopamine)
  • Traumatic or stressful life experiences
  • Chronic medical conditions like pain or diabetes

Current, first-line treatments for depression include: 

  • Medications: aimed at correcting neurochemical imbalances. As mentioned in a previous post, antidepressants can often cause unpleasant side effects and often take considerable time to find the correct drug and dose that works. 
  • Psychotherapy: assist in creating healthy behaviours and coping mechanisms to minimize the impact of depressive symptoms. Therapy is out of reach for many as it is excluded from basic healthcare in Canada and can be very costly for those without additional health benefits.
  • Other treatments are also available; however, they may not be accessible due to cost, wait times or location. These include ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and, most recently, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).

Psilocybin and Depression

While psilocybin remains illegal in Canada, several studies report that when given in a clinical setting with therapeutic support, it can have “rapid, robust, and sustained improvements” in depressive symptoms (Raison, Jain, Penn, Cole & Jain, 2022). Similar to conventional antidepressants, psilocybin interacts with serotonin receptors while promoting neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons and neural connections) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the mind to be flexible and allow the formation of new mindsets and habits).

Microdosing Psilocybin

Microdosing provides a safer way to begin exploring psilocybin without the potential for a full-blown, emotionally or spiritually challenging psychedelic experience. A common adage in psychedelics is START LOW, GO SLOW; you can always take more but can’t undo what’s already been taken. A microdose generally produces no cognitive distortions; users can attend to their lives and responsibilities as usual. 

There is a lack of peer-reviewed clinical research on microdosing psilocybin, and current research is limited as it relies heavily on self-reported measures, which may be exaggerated or under-reported by respondents.  However, initial findings from some preliminary anecdotal and exploratory studies support the practice’s safety and therapeutic efficacy. 

People may microdose for various reasons, including improved mental health, enhanced cognition, focus, personal development or performance optimization. 

The most frequently reported benefits of microdosing include: 

  • Improved mood (feelings of peace or calmness)
  • Reduced anxiety and more ease in social interactions
  • Improved sleep, energy and creativity
  • Improved cognition, focus, creativity and problem-solving
  • Improved self-insight, mindfulness and ability to engage in meditative practice, exercise, and healthier eating habits
  • Reduced use of other substances (caffeine, alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, prescription psychiatric drugs, and other illicit drugs)
  • A positive shift in behaviours or beliefs and improved interpersonal relationships
  • Chemical imbalance (serotonin and dopamine)
  • Traumatic or stressful life experiences
  • Chronic medical conditions like pain or diabetes

However, it is essential to note that even in low doses, psilocybin, can provoke negative adverse effects.

Although significantly more subtle than those experienced with larger doses, the most commonly reported adverse effects are:

  • Increased anxiety or uneasiness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Headache

Safety and Microdosing

Research and experienced users recommend approaching psilocybin with caution and encourage new users to seek support from a microdosing coach or psychedelic-informed counsellor.

  1. Do not wean off psychiatric medications or begin microdosing without discussing your plan with a trusted healthcare provider. There are dangerous risks to suddenly stopping antidepressant medications.


  2. Psilocybin is not a magic bullet, and microdosing may not relieve your symptoms immediately. Managing your mental health is a life-long process and requires the same energy as maintaining your physical health. Practice patience and let go of any preconceived ideas or expectations.


  3. Consider your set and setting.
    • Your set includes your mindset or your mental and emotional state. Be mindful of your intention for using psilocybin and remain optimistic yet grounded.
    • The setting is typically the physical environment where you take the psilocybin. Regarding microdosing, the setting could be how you incorporate the practice into your daily routine. Don’t think of your microdose as
      just another pill; rather, integrate it as an intentional practice of “reflecting, refactoring and refining” what you are trying to accomplish.


  4. Follow a microdosing schedule or protocol that indicates how often and for how long you microdose. Regardless of which protocol you choose, it is vital to take days off to prevent building a tolerance to psilocybin. You should also take a 2-4 week break every 2-3 months for the same purpose.
    1. Fadiman Protocol: Dr. James Fadiman, author and microdosing researcher, suggests microdosing on a three-day schedule, microdosing for one day, then taking two days off and repeating for 4-8 weeks. 
    2. Stamet’s Protocol: Paul Staments, mycologist, author, and fungi advocate, suggests microdosing for four days and taking three days off and repeating for four weeks.


  5. Track your dose, mood and progress. How will you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started? Keep a daily journal of your dose and track your mood and emotions. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for depression, and you may need to tweak your dose, protocol or timing for optimal results. If journaling isn’t your thing, several microdosing apps are linked below.


  6. Practice self-care. Your overall well-being combines your mental, physical and spiritual health; all are equally important. Daily exercise, meditation, healthy foods, and gratitude will boost your mood alongside the psilocybin.


  7. Know where your psilocybin is grown (and its potency). Choose products that are naturally grown without the use of fillers, pesticides or toxic chemicals. 


Symptoms of depression significantly impact the lives of many. Microdosing may help reduce depression symptoms, but knowing the potential risks and safest practices is essential. If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency center or find nationwide, 24/7 mental health support here.

For more information and other microdosing resources, check out: 

Our Learn Page

Microdosing Courses

How to use psychedelics

Modern Psychedelics : Flow Formula 

Microdosing Apps:

Houston (only for Apple)

Tune In Psychedelics: MicroDos Tracker (only for Android)

You can join the most extensive mobile microdosing study at

Interested in trying Microdosing?

Here are three options we recommend starting with:


Our smallest dose is purposefully crafted to aid in mental stress recovery and help with inflammation reduction.



Designed to help you alleviate all your stress, achieve a flow state, and nourish your mind and your body.



This unique blend combines natural caffeine and adaptogens for an energizing yet calming effect.




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Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook. Harm Reduction Journal 16(43),

BrainFutures. (2022). Psychedelic Medicine: A review of clinical research for a class of rapidly-emerging behavioural health 


Denis-Lalonde, D., & Estefan, A. (2020). Emerging psychedelic-assisted therapies: implications for nursing practice. Journal of 

Mental Health Addiction Nursing 4(1): e1-e13

Fadiman, J., & Korb, S. (2019). Might microdosing psychedelics be safe and beneficial? An initial exploration. Journal of 

Psychoactive Drugs 51(2):118–122.

Lea, T., Amada, N., & Jungaberle, H. (2020). Psychedelic microdosing: A subreddit analysis. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 


Raison, C., Jain, R., Penn, A., Cole, S, & Jain, S. (2022) Effects of naturalistic psychedelic use on depression, anxiety, and 

well-being: Associations with patterns of use, reported harms, and transformative mental states. Frontiers in Psychiatry 


Rush, B., Marcus, O., Shore, R., Cunningham, L., Thomson, N, & Rideout, K. (2022). Psychedelic medicine: A rapid review of 

therapeutic applications and implications for future research: Key findings. Homewood Research Institute.