MDMA could enhance psychotherapy outcomes in people with PTSD

Research has shown ‘marked improvements’ in PTSD symptoms after MDMA use during psychotherapy.

Ecstasy pills

MDMA (also known as ecstasy) could potentiate the benefits of psychotherapy in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers have discovered[1]

In a blinded, randomised phase II trial published in Lancet Psychiatry (1 May 2018), researchers tested the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in 26 veterans and emergency service members with chronic PTSD. Patients were assigned to receive MDMA at one of three doses (30mg, 75mg or 125mg) during two eight-hour sessions with face-to-face psychotherapy.

At one month after the last session, patients in the two highest-dose groups had significantly greater decreases in PTSD symptom severity than those in the lowest dose group, compared with baseline. The treatment was generally well-tolerated (7.7% discontinuation rate) and there was only one serious adverse event potentially linked to the treatment.

“MDMA-assisted psychotherapy with 75mg or 125mg resulted in marked improvement of PTSD symptoms in veterans and first responders with chronic PTSD who had failed previous treatment,” the researchers concluded.


[1] Mithoefer M, Mithoefer A, Feduccia A et al. 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, firefighters, and police officers: a randomised, double-blind, dose-response, phase 2 clinical trial. Lancet Psych 2018;5(6):486–497. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30135-4

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, July 2018, Vol 10, No 7;10(7):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204974

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