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Author Topic: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?  (Read 2798 times)

Offline thedoc

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How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« on: 02/12/2013 10:44:03 »
How does MDMA affect the brain circuitry and memory in soldiers with PTSD during psychotherapy?

Current successful trials of MDMA use in treatment-resistant PTSD analyse data up to six years after use but is this period long enough to confirm that the drug was effective?

Would dependency of MDMA be of concern given the short-term use?
Asked by Kimberley Philbey


                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

 ...or Listen to the Answer or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 02/12/2013 10:44:03 by _system »


 

Offline thedoc

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How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #1 on: 02/12/2013 10:44:03 »
We answered this question on the show...

Amy -   So, MDMA which is also known as ecstasy.  Itís a very, very dirty drug that has a lot of different effects on the brain.  A few of the things that it does is mainly to increase levels of particular chemicals - so, dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, and oxytocin.  So, these are all modulatory chemicals in the brain that influence cognitive function in a very sort of diffuse way.  
But certainly, dopamine and oxytocin have been linked to feeling attached to people and euphoria and feeling good about yourself.  
MDMA used to treat posttraumatic stress
« Last Edit: 02/12/2013 10:44:03 by _system »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #2 on: 11/12/2013 02:07:34 »
How well would it work for the treatment of chronic pain?
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #3 on: 11/12/2013 21:17:11 »
By boosting dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, and oxytocin, articles say it has full body analgesic properties, and can relieve both physical and psychological pain. It doesn't seem to interfere with cognition, or at least not in the same way that central nervous system depressants do. But the problem with using it chronically is that our nervous systems often stubbornly resist any long term adjustments or increases in neurotransmitters, by changing the number or function of receptors on cells. So the danger is ending up worse off than you started, with possibly permanent irreversible changes.

It's a problem with a lot of drugs - the nervous system resists attempts to up regulate or down regulate it, and responds by compensating with the opposite effect. That's essentially what happens when one builds tolerance. And it explains why the side effects of withdrawal are usually the opposite of the drug, that is, people withdrawing from alcohol will be jumpy and agitated, unable to sleep. People withdrawing from stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines will be tired and sluggish. 

ps. I don't know why this doesn't seem to be a problem with long term use of SSRI antidepressants, or at least not that I've read. This article suggests the mechanism of antidepressants might be more complicated than previously thought.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=unraveling-the-mystery-of-ssris-depression&WT.mc_id=SA_FAcebook
« Last Edit: 11/12/2013 21:36:09 by cheryl j »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #4 on: 11/12/2013 23:31:10 »
Quote from: cheryl j
So the danger is ending up worse off than you started, with possibly permanent irreversible changes.
What's the difference between that and long term use of opiods?
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #5 on: 12/12/2013 05:33:28 »
Quote from: cheryl j
So the danger is ending up worse off than you started, with possibly permanent irreversible changes.
What's the difference between that and long term use of opiods?

One article I looked at said that there is actually little research about the long term effects on the brain from chronic opioid use, and what if any changes are permanent,  which is  surprising given how long these drugs have been around. The article said it's complicated by the fact you have to break people down into a lot of separate groups to study - such as patients who had or continue to have untreated chronic pain (since pain itself may change the brain) patients who became addicted primary from recreational use, patients who had pain but then became addicted for other reasons, patients became dependent but never developed addiction, that is, never demonstrated drug seeking behavior once pain issues were adequately addressed. And of course, there may be significantly different effects from prescription vs illicit opioids. This particular article looked at changes in the structure of and connections to the amygdala in one group of patients with long term opioid use.

The second Medscape article notes hormonal suppression with long term opioid use (because of effects on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland) although this article has very pro-pain treatment viewpoint despite these problems. I don't know what if any changes would be permanent.

The third article mentions hyperalgesia or hypersensitivity to pain as a result of long term use, and although most articles I've read say it goes away eventually with discontinued use, other articles suggest that some degree of hyperalgesia, as well as tolerance may remain in certain patients.

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/133/7/2098.full

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/782660

http://www.iasp-pain.org/AM/AMTemplate.cfm?Section=HOME&CONTENTID=7618&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm
 

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Re: How does Ecstasy help treat PTSD?
« Reply #5 on: 12/12/2013 05:33:28 »

 

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