Field Study Supports Lasting Mood Benefits of Psychedelics
In a new field study by Yale University, participants who had recently used psychedelic substances such as psilocybin (the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms”) reported a sustained improvement in mood and social connectedness after the high was gone.
The findings add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that psychedelic substances may have potential as therapy for mood disorders.
The study involved more than 1,200 people who had attended multi-day arts and music festivals in the United States and the United Kingdom. The findings confirm previous laboratory research showing that psychedelic substances enhance feelings of closeness and mental well-being, the authors say.
“Our results show that people who take psychedelics ‘in the wild’ report positive experiences very similar to those observed in controlled laboratory studies,” said Yale’s Dr. Matthias Forstmann, postdoctoral fellow and first author of the paper.
For the study, the research team visited a half dozen festivals and asked attendees who were not at-the-moment under the influence of psychedelics about their recent social experiences, mood and substance use. By surveying them, the researchers were able to characterize the psychological effects of the “afterglow” of psychedelic experiences.
According to their findings, people who recently took psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin were more likely to report having “transformative experiences” so profound that they came out of the experience radically changed, including changes to their moral values.
Transformative experiences, in turn, were linked to feelings of social connectedness and positive mood. The most pronounced effects were reported by those who had taken psychedelics within the past 24 hours.
“We are encouraged that our study is consistent with previous laboratory findings showing mood benefits of psychedelics in healthy people and in patients suffering from anxiety and depression,” said senior author Dr. Molly Crockett, an assistant professor of psychology.
Those who abstained from substance use, or who drank alcohol or took other drugs such as cocaine or opioids did not report transformative experiences, increased connectedness with others or positive mood to the same degree, the study showed.
Crockett warns that the study was not designed to evaluate any potential negative reactions to the use of psychedelics. More research is needed to determine which environmental factors are linked to positive versus negative psychedelic experiences, she said.
The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: Yale University
Pedersen, T. (2020). Field Study Supports Lasting Mood Benefits of Psychedelics. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/01/21/field-study-supports-lasting-mood-benefits-of-psychedelics/153572.html