• For 24/7 Treatment Help Call

    (800) 526-5053

  • MDMA & Depression | Does Ecstasy/MDMA Cause Or Help With Depression?

    MDMA & Depression | Does Ecstasy/MDMA Cause Or Help With Depression?

    MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a drug used for its effects of euphoria and enhanced well-being. It is currently being studied for its potential as a treatment option for depression. 

    However, conflicting research shows MDMA may actually cause depressive symptoms in some people. Although MDMA may have potential in the treatment of depression, more research is needed to determine if the risks outweigh the benefits.

    Does Ecstasy/MDMA Cause Depression?

    MDMA, also known as ecstasy, has both amphetamine and mild hallucinogenic effects. Once MDMA reaches your brain, it increases the production of three neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. 

    Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, well-being, and happiness. Elevated mood, emotional warmth, and empathy are commonly reported side-effects of MDMA. 

    However, as the drug leaves your system, levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters decrease substantially. This may lead to a comedown, or crash, that can last for several days following use. 

    MDMA Comedown 

    An MDMA comedown may cause depression and several other symptoms, including:

    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • impaired memory and attention
    • aggression

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), animal studies show decreased levels of serotonin after a binge period. Serotonin levels in the animals remained low, even after several years.

    Heavy Use 

    Additional research found that using MDMA twice daily for four days may also cause damage to serotonin-related nerve cells. Low levels of serotonin is associated with depression, impaired memory, and other negative effects. 

    Other behavioral effects related to long-term MDMA use may include:

    • anxiety
    • paranoia
    • sleep problems
    • impaired attention
    • impulsivity
    • cognitive impairment

    In addition to its effects on mental health, MDMA also increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. In high doses, these effects may contribute to an MDMA overdose. Although fatal overdoses are rare, they can occur if symptoms are left untreated. 

    Does MDMA Help Depression?

    For several years, researchers have been interested in the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs, including MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine. MDMA has been focused on as a treatment option for depression and other mental illnesses. 

    Most antidepressant medications can take up to six weeks to start relieving symptoms. MDMA may be beneficial in relieving symptoms immediately, especially in people with treatment-resistant depression.  

    Recent studies show the potential benefits of using limited amounts of MDMA in a controlled environment. 

    MDMA-Assisted Treatment 

    Discussing painful memories and emotions can be difficult, especially with a new healthcare provider. MDMA may be a useful tool to encourage trust and bonding during initial therapy sessions. 

    The Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently funding the FDA in clinical trials for MDMA-assisted treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    MDMA-assisted treatment consists of limited doses of MDMA alongside long-term psychotherapy. After two months of treatment, more than half of the participants in the clinical trials no longer met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis. 

    In addition, the most recent clinical trials found the following results:

    • decreased symptoms in people with severe symptoms
    • no reported cognitive impairment
    • some people experienced positive results after the first treatment session
    • most participants reported positive mental health during a follow-up interview

    MDMA & Depression

    In the treatment of depression, MDMA research is still extremely limited. However, researchers believe it may be beneficial when used alongside therapy. Typical antidepressants can take weeks to have any effect but MDMA may help relieve symptoms immediately. 

    According to the National Library of Medicine, MDMA may target the same areas of the brain as antidepressants. In low doses, MDMA may be beneficial as an aid to behavioral therapy and other treatments. 

    However, research is limited because of MDMA’s status as an illegal controlled substance in the United States. Most of the research available on MDMA has found dangerous risks and long-term effects.

    If you are interested in learning more about the treatment options offered at Ark Behavioral Health, please contact us today. 

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) - MDMA-Assisted Therapy Study Protocols
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - What Are MDMA's Effects On The Brain?
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - What Are The Effects Of MDMA?
    National Library Of Medicine - MDMA For The Treatment Of Mood Disorder: All Talk No Substance?

    Medically Reviewed by
    Davis Sugar, M.D.
    on July 12, 2022
    Questions About Treatment?

    Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Achieve long-term recovery.

    100% confidential. We respect your privacy.
    Prefer Texting?

    Our friendly support team is here to chat 24/7. Opt out any time.


    Our Facilities

    Premier Drug Rehab & Mental Health Care Facilities In Massachusetts & Ohio

    Bedrock Recovery

    Canton, MA

    • Medical detox
    • Inpatient & Residential Treatment
    • Primary Mental Health Care
    • Movie Theater & Fitness Center

    Learn More

    Northeast Addictions

    Quincy, MA

    • Day treatment program
    • Intensive Outpatient Program
    • Full-Day Group Therapy
    • Easy Access to Public Transit

    Learn More

    Spring Hill Recovery Center

    Ashby, MA

    • Residential Treatment
    • Gender-Specific Residencies
    • Outdoor Recreation
    • Expansive 70-Acre Campus

    Learn More

    Ohio Recovery Center

    Van Wert, OH

    • Medical Detox
    • Residential Treatment
    • Primary Mental Health Care
    • 55-Acre Campus

    Learn More

    For Immediate Treatment Help Call 800-526-5053