Ecstasy (MDMA) and high prevalence psychiatric symptomatology: somatic anxiety symptoms are associated with polydrug, not ecstasy, use

G Bedi, N T Van Dam, J Redman
Journal of Psychopharmacology 2010, 24 (2): 233-40
Although previous studies have examined anxiety and depression in ecstasy (+/-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA) users, it remains unclear whether symptoms are associated specifically with ecstasy or with polydrug use in general. We compared mean symptomatology and clinically significant symptoms in 45 ecstasy polydrug, 48 cannabis polydrug and 40 legal drug users, who completed standardised self-report anxiety and depression symptom measures. We further examined whether group differences were secondary to increased somatic symptom reporting, which may reflect acute/subacute drug effects. Anxiety and depression scores were higher in polydrug than legal drug users, with no difference between ecstasy and cannabis groups. There was no difference in numbers meeting criteria for clinically significant depression or 'moderate' or 'severe' anxiety, but the polydrug group contained more individuals reporting at least 'mild' anxiety symptoms than the legal drug control. Multivariate analyses indicated that anxiety alone was sufficient to discriminate groups. Polydrug users reported more somatic anxiety symptoms than legal drug users, but endorsed equivalent numbers of non-somatic symptoms. High prevalence psychiatric symptomatology in ecstasy polydrug users may be associated with polydrug rather than ecstasy use. Higher ratings in polydrug users appear to be secondary to increased somatic symptom reporting, suggesting possible impacts of drug effects on symptom endorsement.


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