MDMA As Psychiatric Medicine: A Closer Look

MDMA is the popular synthetically produced psychoactive drug that users call Ecstasy. Being a psychoactive drug, it acts upon the central nervous system and neurons. In its specific case, it results in escalated emotions, enhanced sense of pleasure, and increased energy. We’ve discussed the science behind ecstasy in a separate post here

The first-ever use of this drug dates back to 1912, when a German company synthesized the drug to use it as an appetite suppressant. In the 1980s, the drug was available to the common public and was commercialized as a street drug. In the 1990s, it was highly popular in the youth and adult strata and made way to rave parties and nightclubs, steadily the intake and use of the drug ended up expanding to metropolitan cities. 

MDMA has shown a success rate in decreasing the symptoms of PTSD. FDA, USA had run trials in November 2018 and had observed the drug to be an effective assistant to psychotherapy. In the year 2021, it may be approved to be prescribed as a medicine with the conclusion and approval by the FDA at the end of phase three trials. 

Along with this, an international study has also supported MDMA as a useful and effective drug in treating patients with PTSD, who had shown little or no improvements with other drugs and previous treatments. MDMA assisted psychotherapy seems to have a bright future, and if the results of MDMA come out to be positive, the drug may not be considered illegal for long. Instead, the right quantity will be used in treating patients undergoing therapy. 

The mechanism of MDMA is simple. The drug works upon neurons that use three chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These helps regulate mood, increase trust and reduce horrific memories of the trauma of the incident. With the help of MDMA, patients can more easily confront and open up about themselves to their therapist.

MDMA helps to create a more conducive environment for mental healing by increasing the ability of the patient to enter into the emotional reconditioning. MDMA has potential to serve as a life-changing drug by bringing out some of the root causes of the problems. Once root causes are confronted, the work of reconditioning can be easily done that will aid in bringing the patients’ life back to normalcy. 

The future of MDMA lies in the approval of its appropriateness. Once approved, MDMA may be prescribed as medicine by medical professionals. It is also expected that the drug can be prescribed for problems other than PTSD. It can be used for various disorders such as substance abuse, depression, treating anxiety associated with autism and alcohol use disorder and childhood abuse. 

While MAPS trials so far have shown MDMA is safe to use, some of the side effects include nausea, jaw tightness increased blood pressure, increased body temperature and poor balance. MAPS is trying to work on these side effects and alleviate them. Preliminary evidence suggests encouraging evidence in MDMA’s potential to treat many psychiatric issues.

We will have to wait till 2021 for the final verdict. However, the chances look bright and MDMA holds strong safety parameters that demonstrate efficacy and utility in treating patients with anxiety and stress-related disorders.