The party drug known as ecstasy may help in the recovery of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the promising treatment comes with potentially dangerous side effects.
PTSD is a mental health condition caused by the exposure to traumatic experiences, though recent research revealed that it may also result in physical changes to the brain. Will the method involving ecstasy prove to be the best treatment for PTSD despite the side effects?
Ecstasy Helps With PTSD Recovery
According to research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, MDMA, the main ingredient of the party drug ecstasy, may help reduce the symptoms for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study found that ecstasy, combined with psychotherapy, offers effective treatment for the symptoms of PTSD. After two sessions of such a treatment method, most of the 26 first-responders and combat veterans who were suffering from chronic PTDS saw significant decreases in their symptoms. This is after these same patients did not receive any relief from traditional treatment methods.
In fact, according to the study, 68 percent of the patients saw such dramatic improvements that they were no longer classified as suffering from PTSD based on clinical criteria. The patients also reported significant improvements in their sleeping patterns and that they became more conscientious.
Various tests and studies on MDMA for PTSD treatment have been carried out, and the newest research reveals that using ecstasy with psychotherapy certainly has potential.
Dangerous Side Effects Of PTSD Treatment With Ecstasy
The results of using ecstasy as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder look too good to be true, and that is confirmed when taking a look at the side effects of the treatment method.
Side effects include anxiety, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and muscle tension, but they were considered minor and only persisted to the days after the treatment sessions. However, there were also cases of suicidal thoughts among the patients, which is dangerous even if they reportedly did not last long. One psychiatrist also expressed concern that long-term treatment with the method may trigger an ecstasy addiction among patients.
A larger study that will involve much more than just 26 patients will be needed to assess the effectiveness as well as the safety of using ecstasy to treat PTSD.
Michael Bloomfield, a University College London psychiatry expert who was not involved in the study, noted that the study was conducted under the supervision of researchers and used "medical grade" MDMA. PTSD patients are warned against taking ecstasy to try to self-medicate, as the street version of the party drug is illegal and dangerous.