Psilocybin & Bipolar Disorder

Psychologist Dr. David Gard speaks on the use of psilocybin and magic mushrooms to treat bipolar disorder and depression, the potential benefits and risks, and breaks down the latest research on the role of psychedelics and psilocybin in supporting mental health.

Hosted by Dr. Emma Morton.

Dr. David Gard - TalkBD Bipolar Disorder Podcast

Dr. David Gard is a Professor of Psychology, Director of the Motivation and Emotion Research Lab, and the Coordinator of the Clinical Psychology Master’s Program at San Francisco State University. He received his Master’s degree in clinical psychology from San Francisco State University in 1996 and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. He has been lecturing at San Francisco State University since 1997 and was hired full-time as an assistant professor at SFSU in the fall of 2005. His research interests are broadly in the area of emotion and motivation dysfunction in various mental health disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. He also researches novel treatments in severe mental illness.

Questions & Topics

  • Psychedelics like psilocybin-containing mushrooms have such a long history of use, from indigenous medicines and traditions to countercultural movements in the 1960s. Why does it feel like we are only recently hearing about its potential to treat mental health symptoms?
  • Do we know how psilocybin works?
  • Although we are starting to see more research on psilocybin, there hasn’t been much specifically looking into bipolar disorder. Can you tell me more about why that is?
  • How is Psilocybin helpful for people with bipolar disorder? What have studies found?
  • Is there research to tell us what the safest and most beneficial dose and usage frequency of psilocybin for people with bipolar disorder?
  • What is the biggest risk of taking psilocybin for bipolar disorder?
  • You’re also a clinical psychologist. What role might psychotherapy play in psilocybin and psychedelic treatments for bipolar disorder?
  • What about microdosing? Is there any research on whether it might help people with bipolar disorder, or share any of those risks you described?
  • What do you think clinical applications of psychedelics will look like in the future?


00:00 Introduction
00:29 About Dr. Gard
01:29 History of Psilocybin Use for Mental Health
02:55 How Psilocybin Changes Your Brain
04:55 Why Researchers Have Avoided Studying Psilocybin
06:22 What Studies Have Found
10:37 The Optimal Dose for Psilocybin
12:04 Top 3 Risks of Psilocybin for Bipolar Disorder
14:21 Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy
19:06 Microdosing Psychedelics
21:20 The Future of Psychedelics in Mental Health Treatment


Why Researchers Have Avoided Studying Psilocybin
What Case Studies Have Found About Psilocybin
Questions and comments?

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