It’s a trope seen countless times in books and movies. A character emerges from a drug-induced psychedelic stupor with a fresh outlook and more positive perspective on life. According to new findings from The Ohio State University, however, there may really be some truth to this hallucinogenic notion. Scientists report particularly mystical and insightful psychedelic drug experiences may be associated with an enduring drop in both anxiety and depression symptoms.
Study authors performed a comprehensive machine learning analysis of data pertaining to nearly 1,000 survey respondents who answered questions about their previous non-clinical experiences with psychedelic drugs. Sure enough, those scoring the highest on questionnaires assessing the mystical and insightful nature of their experiences also consistently reported improvements in both depression and anxiety.
Of course, there’s also the risk of encountering a “bad trip.” What happens if a psychedelic experience becomes unpleasant, frightening, or destabilizing? Surprisingly, the study actually found that even challenging psychedelic trips can be beneficial — especially within the context of mystical and insightful experiences. This finding in particular may be especially helpful for practitioners to know as they guide patients through clinical trials focusing on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.
“Sometimes the challenge arises because it’s an intensely mystical and insightful experience that can, in and of itself, be challenging,” says senior study author Alan Davis, assistant professor and director of the Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education in The Ohio State University College of Social Work, in a media release.