Psychedelic drugs may provide long-time mood benefits, Yale study shows

In a new study, researchers found that people who had recently used psychedelics such as psilocybin report a sustained improvement in mood and feeling closer to others after the high has worn off.

The findings confirm previous laboratory research indicating that psychedelic substances enhance feelings of social connectedness and improve mental well-being.

The research was conducted by a team at Yale University.

The team tested more than 1,200 people attending multi-day arts and music festivals in the United States and the United Kingdom.

They visited a half dozen festivals and asked attendees who were not then 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.

The team found that people who recently took psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, more commonly known as magic mushrooms, 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 associated with feelings of social connectedness and positive mood.

The most pronounced effects were reported by psychedelics users who had taken the drugs within the past 24 hours.

People who abstained from substance use, 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 results show that people who take psychedelics ‘in the wild’ report positive experiences very similar to those observed in controlled laboratory studies.

The team cautioned that the study was not designed to assess the negative reactions to the use of psychedelics that have been reported.

Further studies are necessary to learn which environmental factors are associated with positive versus negative psychedelic experiences.

But the findings add to a body of evidence suggesting psychedelic substances may have potential as a therapy for mood disorders.

The lead author of the study is Yale’s Matthias Forstmann, a postdoctoral fellow.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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