Read More: Inverse
In this era of brain augmentation, nootropics, microdosing, and alternative medicine, it might seem tempting to take your mental health concerns into your own hands. But a case report about a man who tried to DIY mental health treatment with DMT, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs on July 7, might convince you to exercise caution when it comes to experimenting with psychotropic drugs. This cautionary tale involves a former psychiatrist who tried to treat his treatment-resistant bipolar depression with the powerful psychedelic N,N-Dimethyltryptamine — better known as DMT — with dire results. The unnamed patient, a 40-year-old retired psychiatrist, had lived with depression for most of his life and had experienced a manic episode. As such, he was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. He hadn’t responded to multiple antidepressant medications, mood stabilizers, various antipsychotics, electroconvulsive therapy, or ketamine. In an effort to ease his depression, the man tried taking DMT that he purchased on the dark web. Crystalline DMT is typically vaporized in small amounts (2-60 milligrams) out of a glass bulb-style pipe. But he didn’t just use a little DMT. By any reasonable standard, he used a lot: He told doctors that he was vaporizing up to one gram of the drug each day. According to the DMT guide published by Erowid, a prominent harm-reduction resource, 2-5 milligrams is considered a threshold dose (effects are just barely noticeable), whereas 40-60 milligrams is considered a heavy dose (in which the user hallucinates intensely and totally detaches from reality). The retired psychiatrist was consuming 1,000 milligrams every single day, which is a heck of a lot. After doing this for about six months, he did experience some relief from his depression.