Volume 11 Issue 2
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 2-Jan-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 3-Jan-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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MDMA use does not appear to cause depression in most people

(2 January 2009: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 2.1 million Americans age 12 and older had abused methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, “ecstasy”), a drug that has both stimulant and psychedelic properties, at least once in the year prior to the survey. Research into whether people who use MDMA experience depression has produced conflicting results.

Now, the first longitudinal study to use a standardized method of measuring depression in a large sample of MDMA users has found that “for most people MDMA…use is not associated with clinically meaningful depressive symptomatology in the long term,” state the study’s authors, who were funded in part by NIDA. The researchers enrolled 402 people between the ages of 18 and 30 (258 men and 144 women) who had used MDMA at least once in the past 6 months. The participants completed a baseline interview and returned for followup interviews every 6 months; 292 participants completed the followup interview at 2 years after the baseline. Depression was measured with the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II); higher scores indicated more severe depressive symptoms. Overall, BDI-II scores were low for MDMA users and decreased, on average, after 2 years of followup.

Participants who had used MDMA more than 50 times had significantly higher scores than those who had used the drug less often. It remains unclear whether the depressive symptoms observed, regardless of level or severity, are related to MDMA use or whether the concurrent use of other drugs or interactions between those drugs and MDMA play a role, and what relationships exist between lifetime history of depression and the likelihood of MDMA use, explain the authors. “Additional research using more sensitive instrumentation would perhaps shed more light on this critically important issue,” they conclude.

Falck RS, Wang J, Carlson RG. Depressive symptomatology in young adults with a history of MDMA use: A longitudinal analysis. J Psychopharmacol. 2008;22(1):47–54.

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