Data_Sheet_1_Effects of Naturalistic Psychedelic Use on Depression, Anxiety, and Well-Being: Associations With Patterns of Use, Reported Harms, and Transformative Mental States.docx
Survey-based studies suggest naturalistic psychedelic use provides mental health benefits similar to those observed in clinical trials. The current study sought to confirm these findings in a large group of psychedelic users and to conduct a novel examination of associations between amount of psychedelic use and behavioral outcomes, as well as frequency of harms ascribed to psychedelic use. A cross-sectional, online survey was completed by 2,510 adults reporting at least one lifetime psychedelic experience. Participants retrospectively completed a battery of instruments assessing depression, anxiety, and emotional well-being prior to and following psychedelic exposure. Participants also reported preferred psychedelic agent, number of uses, and harms attributed to psychedelic use. Psychedelic use was associated with significant improvements in depressive and anxious symptoms and with increased emotional well-being. These improvements increased in magnitude with increasing psychedelic exposure, with a ceiling effect. However, improvements were noted following a single lifetime use. Strong evidence for benefit of one preferred psychedelic agent over another was not observed, but enduring increases in factors related to mystical-experience and prosocial perspective taking associated with enhanced mental health. Thirteen percent of the survey sample (n = 330) endorsed at least one harm from psychedelic use, and these participants reported less mental health benefit. Results from the current study add to a growing database indicating that psychedelic use—even outside the context of clinical trials—may provide a wide range of mental health benefits, while also posing some risk for harm in a minority of individuals.