January 2, 2013
New Swiss Study Adds More Evidence For Treating PTSD With MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy
Subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder experienced clinically meaningful improvements and no evidence of harm after participating in a small Swiss study evaluating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, according to a paper published yesterday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
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JANUARY 2, 2013
Santa Cruz, Calif.—Subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder experienced clinically meaningful improvements and no evidence of harm after participating in a small Swiss study evaluating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, according to a paper published yesterday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The study used a low dose of MDMA as an active placebo and achieved a successful double-blind.
The 12-person, randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind pilot study adds new evidence for the safety and potential effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for people suffering from chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD.
Subjects included survivors of sexual assault, accidents, and severe illness. Subjects had suffered from PTSD for an average of over 18 years and none had responded adequately to existing psychotherapies and drug treatments for PTSD.
All subjects received three eight-hour experimental psychotherapy sessions interspersed with weekly non-drug psychotherapy sessions. Eight subjects who received full dose MDMA were compared to four subjects who received low dose MDMA, which served as an active placebo to facilitate blinding. The results of the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) approached but did not reach statistical significance (p=0.066) while the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS), a self-reported measure of PTSD symptom severity, was statistically and clinically significant (p=0.014). Additionally, three MDMA sessions were significantly more effective than two (p=0.016).
“Most full-dose subjects achieved improvement of their PTSD, and improved even further at the one-year follow-up,” said Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Oehen, the study’s lead investigator. “For the majority of subjects, regaining hope and a new perspective in life through the treatment was more important than the reduction of their PTSD symptoms.”
“MDMA helped me to stop holding back the strong feelings that came from all those long years of sexual abuse,” said Karin, who participated in the study. “After the study I was able to look at the past, go through all those bad spaces in my life, and look at them from very close. I’m still working on it and know I’m on the right path.”
The study was sponsored by the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which also sponsored a US MDMA/PTSD study in 20 subjects with long-term follow-up results recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
• Paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23118021
• More information at mdmaptsd.org or maps.org.
Brad Burge, MAPS Director of Communications
Rick Doblin, Ph.D., MAPS Executive Director
Peter Oehen, M.D., Lead Investigator
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