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Ecstasy use and depression: a 4-year longitudinal study among an Australian general community sample

Amanda M George, Sarah Olesen, Robert J Tait
Psychopharmacology 2013, 229 (4): 713-21
23681160

RATIONALE: Longitudinal, population-based studies can better assess the relationship of ecstasy use with depression.

OBJECTIVES: We examined whether change in ecstasy use was associated with change in depressive symptoms/probable depression over a 4-year period, among a large Australian sample.

METHODS: The Personality and Total Health project is a longitudinal general community study of Australians from Canberra and Queanbeyan. Data from the youngest cohort when aged 24-30 (N = 2, 128) and 4 years later (N = 1, 977) was included. The Goldberg depression scale and the Brief Patient Health Questionnaire measured depressive symptoms and probable depression, respectively. Multilevel growth models also considered demographics, psychosocial characteristics, and other drug use.

RESULTS: Ecstasy use was not associated with long-term depressive symptoms or greater odds of depression in multivariate analyses. Users had more self-reported depressive symptoms when using ecstasy compared to not using. However, differences between people who had and had not ever used ecstasy largely accounted for this. Other factors were more important in the prediction of depression.

CONCLUSIONS: It would be premature to conclude that ecstasy use is not related to the development of long-term depressive symptoms, given the relatively low level of ecstasy and other drug use in this community sample. Results showed that other factors need to be considered when investigating ecstasy use and depression.

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