Changes in self-rumination and self-compassion mediate the effect of psychedelic experiences on decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress

This online survey study (n=164) investigated how psychedelic-induced mystical experiences improve depression, anxiety, and stress, and found that these effects are partially mediated through decreased self-rumination and increased self-compassion.


Introduction: Psychedelic experiences can be associated with psychological health improvements, such as decreased depression, anxiety, and stress (DAS). Indices indicate that mystical experience and psychological insights, two consistent phenomena of the psychedelics experience, could operate a shift from self-rumination toward self-compassion. Therefore, the present study tests the hypothesis that changes in self-rumination and self-compassion mediate the effects of mystical experience and psychological insights on decreases in DAS following a psychedelic experience.

Method: Online questionnaires were completed by individuals who reported having had a significant psychedelic experience (n = 164).

Results: We observed significant decreases in DAS after the psychedelic experience. We also observed significant decrease in self-rumination and increase in self-compassion after the psychedelic experience. A regression analysis showed that the level of psychological insights experienced during the psychedelic session was significantly associated with decrease in DAS. A mediation analysis revealed that decreases in self-rumination and increases in self-compassion partially mediated the effect of psychological insights on decreases in DAS. Although there was an increase in self-reflection following the psychedelic experience, it was not associated with decreases in DAS. This suggests that decreases in self-rumination and increases in self-compassion may be partial mediators of the effects of psychedelics on DAS.

Discussion: Self-compassion shared similarities with psychological flexibility, and self-compassion focused therapies have been shown efficient to decrease DAS. Therefore, we propose that our results bring additional support for the use of contextual behavioral science and related third waves cognitive-behavioral therapies to get the best benefits of psychedelic effects in the context of psychedelic-assisted therapy.”

Authors: Baptiste Fauvel, Lana Strika-Bruneau & Pascale Piolino