Anxiety, depression, and behavioral symptoms of executive dysfunction in ecstasy users: contributions of polydrug use

Krista Lisdahl Medina, Paula K Shear
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2007 March 16, 87 (2-3): 303-11

BACKGROUND: Given ecstasy's (MDMA) potential serotonergic neurotoxicity, it is plausible that regular ecstasy users would have an elevated prevalence of behavioral executive dysfunction or mood symptoms. However, recent studies have found that the relationship between ecstasy use and psychological symptoms was no longer significant after controlling for marijuana use (e.g., Morgan et al., 2002). The goal of the present study was to examine the relationship between ecstasy exposure and self-reported executive functioning and psychological symptoms after controlling for gender, ethnicity, and other drug use.

METHODS: Data were collected from 65 men and women with a wide range of ecstasy use (including 17 marijuana-using controls). Participants were administered the Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for adults, and the Beck Depression Inventory-2nd edition.

RESULTS: Although 19-63% of the ecstasy users demonstrated clinically elevated psychological symptoms, frequency of ecstasy use did not predict the psychological symptoms. No gender differences or interactions were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: These results revealed that, although ecstasy users demonstrate elevated levels of psychological symptoms and executive dysfunction, these symptoms are not statistically associated with their ecstasy consumption. Instead, other drug use (alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and inhalants) significantly predict psychological symptoms in this sample of polydrug users.


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