Former chronic methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) users report mild depressive symptoms

N MacInnes, S L Handley, G F Harding
Journal of Psychopharmacology 2001, 15 (3): 181-6
Previous work has indicated recreational use of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) is associated with elevated scores on self-report measures of depression. We sought to examine the long-term effects of consumption on depression in a group of individuals who had consumed large quantities of the drug in the past, but were now leading relatively drug free lives. Respondents to this study (n = 29) had consumed an average of 1.5 ecstasy tablets in the last month, 8.4 in the last 6 months and 23.3 in the last 12 months. The estimated total consumed was 527 tablets, indicating that these respondents were indeed former chronic users of the drug. None of the respondents had consumed ecstasy in the last 14 days. Levels of depression (Beck's Depression Inventory) were significantly (p < 0.01) elevated compared to a matched non-drug using control group. Within the group of former chronic users, these levels of depression were not significantly affected by current use of alcohol, cannabis or amphetamine, but were positively correlated with an external locus of control (p < 0.05), infrequent but severe- (p < 0.05) and frequent but mild- (p < 0.005) self-report measures of life stress. Multiple regression indicated that levels of frequent but mild life stress (p < 0.005) and the quantity of ecstasy tablets respondents consumed over a 12-h period (p < 0.05) were the only variables that were significant predictors of self-reported levels of depression. The results of this study indicate that former chronic ecstasy users report higher levels of depression than their matched controls.

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