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New study reveals veterans living with PTSD 'cured' with ecstasy treatment in weeks

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 2 May 2018, 16:46 IST

According to a new study, a scientist finds that taking Class A ecstasy drug, MDMA, can help veterans recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Scientists in the United States have combined MDMA treatment with psychotherapy in an experimental pilot study that involved 22 military veterans, three firefighters, and a police officer.

What is PTSD?

It is clinically diagnosed by healthcare professionals. In order to be diagnosed, an individual has to meet certain “clusters” of symptoms found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), symptoms of PTSD may include the following: “Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks and nightmares, emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people and activities that are reminders of the trauma and increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, being easily irritated and angered.”

These clusters must be debilitating to the individual for over one month or longer. Many times, PTSD does not even become noticeable for several months to even years after a traumatic event.

How was the study conducted?

The participants were given doses of 30mg, 75mg or 125mg of MDMA, and on average people in the higher dose groups experienced a greater decrease in PTSD symptom severity than those in the low-dose group.

After two sessions, 86% of participants in the 75mg group, 58% in the 125mg group and 29% in the 30mg group no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

The study ended after a year, 16 out of the 26 participants were no longer classified as suffering from PTSD, while two had a renewed diagnosis.

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Lead researcher Dr. Allison Feduccia, from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, California, said: "Our study suggests that MDMA might help augment the psychotherapeutic experiences and may have a role to play in the future treatment of PTSD.

 "However, we would certainly not recommend that individuals try these drugs for the treatment of psychiatric disorders without the support from trained psychotherapists."

MDMA is the main active constituent of ecstasy, a recreational drug which induces feelings of euphoria. Both are an illegal class A drugs, and possession can result in up to seven years in prison in the United Kingdom.

It was administered to patients during eight-hour long specially adapted psychotherapy sessions, followed by an overnight stay in a clinic, seven days of telephone contact and another three 90-minute sessions.

According to researchers, side effects also includes anxiety, headache, fatigue, muscle tension and insomnia.

There were also temporary increases in suicidal thoughts, and one participant with a history of suicide attempts had to be admitted to hospital before completing the study.

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First published: 2 May 2018, 16:46 IST
 
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