Navigation Links
Ecstasy could help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder
Date:3/8/2009

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (March 9th, 2009) Ecstasy may help suffers of post-traumatic stress learn to deal with their memories more effectively by encouraging a feeling of safety, according to an article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology published today by SAGE.

Studies have shown that a type of psychological treatment called exposure therapy where the patient repeatedly recalls the traumatic experience or is repeatedly exposed to situations that are safe but still trigger their traumatic feelings can be effective in relieving stress responses in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxious conditions. The therapy works by helping the patient to re-learn the appropriate response to the trigger situation, a process known as extinction learning.

But this approach can take some time, and 40% of patients continue to experience post-traumatic stress even after their treatment. To improve outcomes, scientists have been investigating the use of drug therapies to enhance the effect of exposure therapy, making the result of exposure to the fear trigger easier, faster, and more effective. MDMA (the pharmaceutical version of Ecstasy) is one such drug.

"A goal during exposure therapy for PTSD is to recall distressing experiences while at the same time remaining grounded in the present. Emotional avoidance is the most common obstacle in exposure therapy for PTSD, and high within-session emotional engagement predicts better outcome," explain authors Pl-rjan Johansen and Teri Krebs, who are based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and supported by the Research Council of Norway.

Psychiatrists that have administered MDMA to anxiety patients have noted that it promotes emotional engagement; strengthens the bond between the patient and doctor, known as the therapeutic alliance; decreases emotional avoidance; and improves tolerance for recall and processing of painful memories.

According to Johansen and Krebs, "MDMA [ecstasy] has a combination of pharmacological effects thatcould provide a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control."

They suggest three possible biological reasons why ecstasy could help individuals with PSTD. First, ecstasy is known to increase the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in trust, empathy, and social closeness.

Because people with PTSD often report feeling emotionally disconnected and unable to benefit from the supportive presence of family and friends or therapists a situation that is likely to contribute to the development and maintenance of the disorder use of ecstasy might also help ameliorate these symptoms, suggest the authors.

"By increasing oxytocin levels, MDMA may strengthen engagement in the therapeutic alliance and facilitate beneficial exposure to interpersonal closeness and mutual trust," they write.

The second biological explanation for ecstasy's useful effect is that it acts in two brain regions to inhibit the automatic fear response (mediated by the amygadala) and increase emotional control (mediated by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and therefore permits bearable revisiting of traumatic memories.

Thirdly, ecstasy increases the release of two other hormones, noradrenaline and cortisol, which are known to be essential to trigger emotional learning, including the process that leads to fear extinction, on which therapy for PTSD relies. But, caution the authors, while these compounds enhance extinction learning they may also temporarily increase anxiety in people with PTSD because the hormones are naturally released as part of the body's response to stress.

Ecstasy combined with psychotherapy is a treatment already being tested in clinical trials to help patients with PTSD. All of these trials have a similar design in which ecstasy or placebo is administered to patients a few times during their therapy sessions as part of a short term course of psychological treatment. According to the Johansen and Krebs, recent preliminary results from two of these randomized controlled trials shows that the therapy might have promise.

"Reduction of avoidance behavior linked to emotions is a common treatment target for all anxiety disorders. MDMA [ecstasy] has a combination of pharmacological effects that, in a therapeutic setting, could provide a balance of activating emotions while feeling safe and in control, as has been described in case reports of MDMA augmented psychotherapy.Future clinical trials could combine MDMA with evidence-based treatment programs for disorders of emotional regulation, such as prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD," conclude the authors.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mithu Mukherjee
mithu.mukherjee@sagepub.co.uk
44-020-732-42223
SAGE Publications UK
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study provides hope that some transplant patients could live free of antirejection drugs
2. Study provides hope that some transplant patients could live free of anti-rejection drugs
3. HIV denialists spread misinformation online -- consequences could be deadly; and more
4. Virus Could Help Drive Obesity
5. Discovery of sugar sensor in intestine could benefit diabetes
6. Cranberry Could Juice Up Ovarian Cancer Treatment
7. Treating Diabetes During Pregnancy Could Lead to Thinner Kids
8. High-risk behaviors could lead to HIV epidemic in Afghanistan
9. Chinas 1-child policy could backfire on its elderly
10. 1.5 million children could be saved
11. FDA Seeks to Regulate Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Products Such as Vegetable Juice Could Be Restricted for Medical Use
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2017)... Olathe, KS (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2017 ... ... system have typically been previously exposed to more adverse experiences than children in ... have experienced trauma such as abuse, neglect or other family challenges. While no ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... April 28, 2017 , ... ... or hERG liability could substantially improve drug safety and minimize the cost of ... for validating ion channel inhibition using cell lines and for cardiac toxicity using ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... April 28, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of ... the Creator responds to and which He does not. Yisrayl says with so many ... is the true name, but he says with a little Scripture, backed with a lot ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... ... April 28, 2017 , ... ... assisting the Brooke Grove Foundation implement a Microsoft Dynamics GP solution that integrates ... leading ERP expert that specializes in long-term care, Brooke Grove now has the ...
(Date:4/28/2017)... , ... April 28, 2017 , ... Rob Lowe is ... now he has leant his presence to an educational purpose as the host of ... important one being cancer. In a recent episode, the series focuses on thyroid cancer. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/20/2017)... 2017  Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE and SIX: ... that it will be participating in the Deutsche Bank ... Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts on ... 11:20 a.m. Eastern Time. A live webcast ... Investor Relations website at http://investor.zimmerbiomet.com .  The webcast ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... April 20, 2017  CVS Pharmacy, the retail ... a new store design to enhance the retail ... food, health-focused products and expanded beauty selections paired ... customers discover new offerings. Together with its innovative ... of the customer experience at CVS Pharmacy.  ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... 2017 Eyevensys, a private biotechnology ... gene expression technology that enables the safe, local, sustained ... a wide range of ophthalmic diseases, announces it has ... Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to advance its technology into clinical ... The ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: