Did you know that in an FDA-approved test on using MDMA for PTSD psychotherapy, almost 70% of patients found their symptoms had reduced considerably within just 12 months? Such was the reduction in symptom severity that these patients found that they no longer qualified for the PTSD diagnosis within a year’s time.
In this article, we explore the role of MDMA in PTSD Psychotherapy in greater detail.
What is MDMA?
MDMA – methylenedioxymethamphetamine – is a psychoactive drug that is used for recreation purposes by people of diverse ages. It is also referred to as Molly or Ecstasy. While MDMA is normally illegal in many parts of the world, in the past few years, the therapeutic effects of this psychedelic drug have been discovered quite recently. This has made MDMA a potential treatment option for multiple psychiatric conditions. One area where MDMA has effected great positive change is PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that forms when individuals experience severe psychological trauma. This triggers strong negative feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical reactions. PTSD causes patients to become extremely vulnerable to triggers that resemble the traumatic experience in any way. PTSD can reduce the quality of life of individuals and needs therapy and medication to help.
Studies have found that MDMA is one of the most effective drugs for PTSD management. When combined with cognitive therapy and counseling, MDMA can help PTSD patients cope with their symptoms and regain their quality of life.
Five facts about MDMA’s role in PTSD Psychotherapy
1. MDMA releases happy hormones in the brain
MDMA, when consumed, increases the number of neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that affect how the brain functions. Some of the neurotransmitters released include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are called “happy hormones” or “feel-good hormones” because they contribute to feelings of pleasure, calm, and satisfaction. In addition to these neurotransmitters, MDMA has also been found to stimulate the release of other hormones like cortisol, oxytocin, vasopressin, and prolactin, which together help to lower aggression, fear, stress, and anxiety.
Since these feelings are what exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD, MDMA helps reduce the severity of PTSD by changing brain activity to become calmer and happier.
2. MDMA has been found to increase empathy in patients
A surprising impact of MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy has been empathy. While scientists don’t know for certain how MDMA increases empathy in people diagnosed with PTSD, it does do so.
In a study by Molly Carlyle & et al. from the University of Exeter, titled “Greater empathy in MDMA users,” it was found that MDMA can reduce social distress and help diagnosed individuals have better cognitive and emotional relationships with others. In fact, the study found that participants had normal psychosocial functioning thanks to MDMA. This goes a long way in proving that MDMA need not be a debilitating drug all the time and can be a highly therapeutic psychedelic with immense social benefits for PTSD sufferers.
3. MDMA-assisted PTSD psychotherapy takes place over 12 weeks
People who take MDMA recreationally often do so whenever they prefer and without a specific quantity or frequency. This can cause more harm in patients with PTSD. Rather, for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy to work, there must be a specific administration process that is followed.
Doctors recommend that PTSD diagnosed individuals undergo 2-3 sessions through a 12-weeks period, where they ingest 120 mg of MDMA per session. Depending on the severity of their symptoms and desired treatment outcomes, they may be advised to take another 40 mg of MDMA two hours after their first dose.
Complementing MDMA treatments must be cognitive therapy, counseling, and other treatment/coping techniques that can help the PTSD patient.
4. MDMA for PTSD psychotherapy can help reduce substance abuse problems
Past research has shown that many psychedelic drugs do have very addictive properties. However, there are no sufficient studies done to prove conclusively that MDMA causes physical dependency on users.
Instead, another surprising finding of the MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy studies has been MDMA’s ability to reduce substance abuse tendencies. Early reports indicate that individuals who received MDMA-induced psychotherapy are less-likely to develop a dependency on drugs and alcohol.
There are currently studies going on to find out if this is due to MDMA treating the addiction itself or addressing the symptoms of other psychiatric conditions that make PTSD patients vulnerable to substance abuse.
5. MDMA isn’t the right treatment for everyone who may want to undergo PTSD Psychotherapy
Despite all the amazing benefits offered by MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy, this is a treatment that isn’t ideal for every PTSD patient. Doctors need to conduct a slew of tests to qualify patients to participate in the trials. Currently, MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy is in Phase 3 clinical trial stage. Successful completion of Phase 3 will allow providers to officially apply for FDA approval for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy.
The future for MDMA-induced PTSD psychotherapy looks very bright. Reports indicate that patients can maintain their reduced symptoms for many days and sometimes weeks after a single session. In the next couple of years, the world can expect PTSD treatment to be revolutionized thanks to this therapeutic psychedelic.