What does MDMA have to do with PTSD?

In the United States, it is estimated that 8 million people suffer from PTSD each year, and for too long, modern medicine has struggled to provide a definitive cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But, the new era of psychedelic-assisted therapy has ushered in a front-running solution with unprecedented results: MDMA.

In 2022, this MDMA therapy clinical trial had groundbreaking results. When combined with talk therapy, participants who took MDMA were twice as likely to recover from their PTSD symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies reported in 2021 that 88% of the participants in their study experienced a significant reduction in symptoms after just three treatments of MDMA therapy, with 67% achieving a complete cure of their PTSD.

In this article, we will discuss:

  1. What is MDMA?
  2. What is PTSD?
  3. How Does MDMA Help With PTSD?
  4. What Does MDMA Therapy Look Like?
  5. What is The Future of MDMA Therapy?

Pill with Happy Face | The Peaceful Mind Counseling Center

What is MDMA?

MDMA is commonly known as ecstasy or molly. It is a psychedelic drug that has shown remarkable potential in alleviating symptoms of mental health disorders, most notably PTSD. Yes, you read that right – a psychedelic drug!

Like other psychedelics, MDMA has undergone a rollercoaster of reputations throughout the years. From celebration to condemnation, fear to prohibition, and widespread misunderstanding. However, recent years have allowed us to explore the incredible benefits that small doses of MDMA can offer.

What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder arises from someone witnessing or experiencing traumatic events. This leads to symptoms such as vivid flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, depression, and anxiety. Recalling these traumatic events may trigger physical symptoms like sweating, heart palpitations, shaking, and nausea. Those who suffer from PTSD can have a hard time adjusting back into their relationships and daily life following their trauma. They may feel numb or unsafe. 

Often, those with PTSD find themselves unwilling to recall these traumatic memories because the experience is simply too painful and terrifying. They may avoid potential stimuli that could trigger their memory, including talking about it in therapy.

Unhappy Man in Therapy for ptsd | The Peaceful Mind Counseling Center

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How Does MDMA Help With PTSD?

MDMA increases the release of serotonin and oxytocin in the brain, which results in several important effects:

  • Enhanced openness and trust: Facilitates a trusting and loving environment. This encourages patients to delve deeply into their emotions with their therapist, which is pivotal for the healing process. 
  • Reduced fear response and increased happiness: Allows patients to access and revisit traumatic memories without overwhelming fear, anxiety, or embarrassment. Getting to the root of things is key.
  • Emotional resilience: Enables patients and therapists to address traumatic experiences and brainstorm coping mechanisms. This will instill confidence in the patient’s journey toward healing their mind and soul.

For a complex and often debilitating condition like PTSD, the ability to feel open, relaxed, trusting, and unafraid is crucial. MDMA therapy can play a transformative role in achieving this, which would lead to a more in-depth conversation in therapy.

Building Resilience | The Peaceful Mind Counseling Center

What Does MDMA Therapy Look Like?

MDMA therapy for PTSD seamlessly blends the foundations of traditional psychotherapy with the unique effects of MDMA. Previous trials have carefully orchestrated scenarios in which patients receive a controlled, small dose of MDMA while being closely monitored by a therapist or medical professional. In this ideal therapeutic setting, patients find themselves comfortable, relaxed, and secure. Once the medication kicks in, talk therapy can begin.

Because MDMA has profound effects on the brain, it can lead to profound changes in the person taking it. Imagine talking to a therapist with little to no fear of judgment, fear of past traumatic experiences, or fear of being triggered into an anxiety attack or depressive episode. In any situation, feeling trust and openness in therapy is important. But this can be especially true for people suffering from PTSD.

What is The Future of MDMA Therapy?

Over the past decade, more than 300 global trials have explored MDMA therapy, and the momentum shows no signs of stopping. Australia recently legalized MDMA for therapeutic use, and while the timeline for MDMA legalization in the US remains unknown, it is currently classified under “breakthrough therapy status” by the FDA. 

Therapist and Patient | The Peaceful Mind Counseling Center

Final Thoughts on MDMA Therapy and PTSD

When administered within a safe, professional environment, it appears that MDMA can help. It has the potential to significantly enhance the healing process for individuals grappling with PTSD. These groundbreaking clinical trials are opening doors for millions of people to find the freedom they desperately need from their traumatic experiences. 

If you are struggling with PTSD and traumatic experiences, know that you are not alone. There is hope. Help is available, and if you are ready to talk to a licensed professional, we are here for you! 

While we don’t offer psychedelic therapy at this time, we are hopeful that it will soon have a place within our practice. Please fill out this interest form to be contacted once it is available.

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