Reduced death anxiety as a mediator of the relationship between acute subjective effects of psychedelics and improved subjective well-being

Publication Name

Death Studies


Research over the past several decades suggests that meaningful psychedelic experiences can engender long-term effects on subjective wellbeing. However, less research has investigated the psychological mechanisms through which these effects may emerge. In the present study, participants (N=201) completed an online survey that retrospectively measured the acute effects of a meaningful psychedelic experience, as well as changes in subjective well-being and death anxiety. Reductions in death anxiety significantly mediated the effects of mystical experience on satisfaction with life, positive affect, and negative affect. Reductions in death anxiety did not mediate any of the effects of psychological insight. Although correlational, the findings are consistent with the hypothesis that some of the benefits of psychedelic-induced mystical experiences on subjective well-being may emerge due to reductions in death anxiety. Nevertheless, further research is needed to establish a causal effect of reduced death anxiety on well-being in the context of psychedelic experiences.

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