Psychedelics may boost mood even after their high wears off

LSD and magic mushrooms can lead to an extended 'high'.
LSD and magic mushrooms can lead to an extended 'high'.

Psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin – also known as "magic mushrooms" – can elevate mood and make one feel close to others, and those feelings may last after the high is gone, new research shows.

The findings, from more than 1 200 art and music festival-goers, echo lab work that showed psychedelics enhance feelings of social connectedness and well-being, Yale University researchers say.

'Transformative experiences'

"Our results show that people who take psychedelics 'in the wild' report positive experiences very similar to those observed in controlled laboratory studies," said first author Matthias Forstmann, a postdoctoral fellow.

For the study, the researchers asked people at six art and music festivals in the United States and the United Kingdom about their experiences with psychedelics.

The investigators found that those who had recently used psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin were more likely to report having "transformative experiences" that brought about significant changes in their lives, including changes in their moral values.

These experiences were tied to feelings of social connectedness and positive mood. The most pronounced effects occurred in the 24 hours after taking psychedelics, the study authors said.

People who didn't take the psychedelic drugs, or who instead drank alcohol or took opioids, did not have the same level of transformative experiences, increased connectedness or positive mood, the study found.

Mood benefits of psychedelics

While the researchers did not take bad reactions to psychedelics into account, they said the findings suggest psychedelic drugs might be useful in treating mood disorders.

Senior study author Molly Crockett, an assistant professor of psychology, said further study is needed to learn which environmental factors are associated with positive and negative reactions.

"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," she said in a Yale news release.

The report was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Image credit: iStock

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