An investigation of factors associated with depressive symptoms among a sample of regular ecstasy consumers

A J Matthews, R Bruno
Neuropsychobiology 2010, 61 (4): 215-22

AIMS/OBJECTIVES: Methylenedioxymethamphetamine affects the central serotonergic system, and there is some evidence for an association between ecstasy use (drugs sold as methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the incidence of self-reported depression and associated help-seeking among a sample of regular ecstasy users. A further aim was to examine the correlates of depressive symptomatology in this population.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: 100 regular ecstasy consumers (at least monthly use) were interviewed as part of the Ecstasy and Related Drug Reporting System in Tasmania, Australia. Participants were also administered epidemiological measures of depression (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) and psychological distress (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale).

RESULTS: One quarter (23%) of participants self-reported recent experience of depression, a rate notably greater than the general population. However, only one third of these participants had attended a health professional for this issue. A range of drug use factors (e.g. frequency and quantity of ecstasy use, frequent cannabis or methamphetamine use, intravenous drug use, polydrug use, binge drug use, harmful alcohol use, and elevated psychological dependence scores for ecstasy and methamphetamine) were associated with high levels of depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSION: These findings are consistent with an association between depressive symptomatology and ecstasy and other drug use. Harm reduction strategies which target drug use factors such as those identified in this study may also aid in the reduction of the experience of depression. Considering the low levels of help-seeking among this population, improving awareness and access to information and treatment for depression may also be important.


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