SSRI vs Psychedelics


I’m researching effects of psychedelic drugs on depression and I’m a bit confused with how exactly psychedelics achieve their effects as compared to traditional SSRI’s. Obviously these two different types of drugs yield very different responses. However, my understanding is that they both fundamentally work by increasing serotonin in the brain. What is the key distinction between psychedelics and SSRI’s that leads to such different effects on the brain?

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Psychedelics don’t work by increasing serotonin; they *mimic* serotonin and bind to some of the serotonin receptors. But since they aren’t serotonin, they disrupt the normal functioning of the brain.

SSRIs don’t increase serotonin levels directly, but prevent rapid re-uptake. But of course, that increases levels.

Psychedelics are agonists. They bind directly to the receptors, and are able to ellicit properties different from endogenous serotonin. They’re much more potent agonists at various sites than endogenous serotonin, and most importantly they’re more potent at receptor site 5HT-2A which is chiefly responsible for the psychedelic experience.

SSRIs do not bind to receptors directly. They bind to the reuptake pumps in the synapse and block serotonin from moving out of the synapse. You just get more serotonin activity that way, as if you took a serotonin pill.