Researchers from Ohio State University have found that a single positive experience on psychedelics may reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in those with racial trauma.
For the study, the researchers recruited 313 people who reported taking a psychedelic drug in the past that they believed contributed to a ‘relief from the challenging effects of racial discrimination’. The sample included people who identified as Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American/ Indigenous Canadaian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.
Once recruited, they completed surveys describing their experiences with racial trauma, psychedelic use, alongside mental health symptoms. This included recalling a memorable psychedelic experience alongside their experience of mental health factors, including anxiety, depression, and stress linked to racial injustice 30 days prior and afterward.
They were also asked to report on the intensity of three common kinds of psychedelic experience: mystical, insightful, or challenging. While mystical experiences were defined as ego dissolution and a spiritual connection to the divine, insightful experiences were described as increased self-awareness and challenging experiences; those that are difficult to go through and may induce anxiety or difficulty breathing.
All in all, the researchers found that the more mystical and insightful experience each participant had, the greater the mental health benefits they received. They also found an inverse correlation between challenging experiences and mental health benefits- less challenging experiences correlated more with positive mental health outcomes.
While interesting findings, the researchers note that their study was limited due to its retrospective nature, and the bias among their volunteers- all having been recruited on the basis of reporting beneficial psychedelic experiences. As such, the researchers are now working on proposals for clinical trials to further investigate the effects of psychedelics on mental health among people of color.