Abstract

Background

PTSD is a chronic condition with high rates of comorbidity, but current treatment options are limited and not always effective. One novel approach is MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people diagnosed with treatment-resistant PTSD, where MDMA is used as a catalyst to facilitate trauma processing during psychotherapy. The aim was to review all current research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

Methods

Articles were identified through PubMed and Science Direct for items published up to 31st March 2019 using terms “treatments for PTSD”, “drug treatments for PTSD”, “MDMA”, “MDMA pathway”, “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy” and “MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD”. Articles were identified through Google Scholar and subject-specific websites. Articles and relevant references cited in those articles were reviewed.

Results

Small-scale studies have shown reduced psychological trauma, however there has been widespread misunderstanding of the aims and implications of this work, most commonly the notion that MDMA is a ‘treatment for PTSD’, which to date has not been researched. This has harmful consequences, namely dangerous media reporting and impeding research progression in an already controversial field.

Conclusions

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may help people who have experienced psychological trauma and who have not been able to resolve their problems through existing treatments, however more research is needed. If this is to get appropriate research attention, we must report this accurately and objectively.

Morgan, L. (2020). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for people diagnosed with treatment-resistant PTSD: what it is and what it isn’t. Annals of General Psychiatry19, 1-7., https://doi.org/10.1186/s12991-020-00283-6

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