MDMA-assisted therapy can help significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in people, a new study has found.
As part of the recent study, which was published in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers reviewed the effectiveness of safety, and tolerability of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted therapy (MDMA-AT) in treating individuals with moderate to severe PTSD, compared to using a placebo.
The study was conducted across thirteen sites, with eleven of them located in the United States and two in Israel. It adhered to international ethical and clinical guidelines, with an independent committee supervising the process to ensure the safety of participants and adequate sample size.
A total of 324 individuals were screened for the present study from August 2020 to May 2022, with 104 out of 121 selected participants proceeding to randomization. These individuals were then randomly divided into two equal groups receiving either MDMA-assisted therapy or a placebo.
The participants were adults aged 18 and older with a Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5) severity score of 28 or higher, indicating a moderate or more severe PTSD condition. They were asked to discontinue all psychiatric medications before participating in the study to prevent potential interactions.
Independent assessors, who were not informed of the study’s specific details, assessed the severity of PTSD in the participants using the CAPS-5 evaluation. To prevent bias, a different assessor evaluated each participant on each occasion.
The trial included a total of three preparation sessions, after which participants received either MDMA-AT or the placebo combined with therapy for over three months. In three 8-hour dosing sessions — one each month — the participants were administered varying doses of MDMA or placebo. The participants engaged in three 90-minute integration sessions to help process their experiences after each dosing session.
In the end, 94 participants representing a diverse group of gender and ethnicity successfully completed the study. Notably, 71.2% were identified as female at birth with 33.7% identified as non-White, and 26.9% as Hispanic or Latino. The participants had been battling issues related to PTSD for an average of 16.2 years.
The results of the study showed that MDMA-AT significantly reduced PTSD symptoms in participants and also had positive effects on functional impairment, especially concerning family, social, and professional aspects of their lives.
The outcome of the study further revealed that 86.5% in the MDMA-AT group showed substantial improvement. By the end of the study, 71.2% of MDMA-AT participants no longer matched the criteria for PTSD, compared to 47.6% in the placebo group.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5% of adults in the U.S. every year. It is estimated that one in 11 individuals will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. PTSD can affect anyone, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, cultural background, or age.
Published by Medicaldaily.com