Antidepressant-like effects of ecstasy in subjects with a predisposition to depression

Irina Majumder, Jason White, Rodney Irvine

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Positive effects of ecstasy on mood and self-esteem due to increased synaptic serotonin levels may indicate a potential antidepressant-like action. This effect may be more prominent in subjects with a pre-existing mood disturbance who may use ecstasy more frequently as a 'self-medication'. This study compared depressive symptoms and the immediate effects of ecstasy on mood in subjects with (WP) and without (NP) a predisposition to depression. Methods: Current ecstasy users were assessed using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) when drug-free, and during social gathering, when 20 subjects voluntarily consumed ecstasy (ecstasy group) and 20 abstained from ecstasy (control group). Predisposition to depression was determined using the Brief Symptom Inventory. During social gathering, POMS and BDI were administered 60. min after ecstasy consumption, or at matched time for controls. 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) exposure was confirmed using saliva samples collected 60. min after pill ingestion. Results: There was no difference in ecstasy use patterns between the groups. When drug-free, the WP subjects had greater mood disturbance and depressive symptoms than the NP group (POMS: NP 5.85. ± 1.63, WP 14.5. ± 2.81, p. < 0.05, BDI: NP 4.9. ± 0.86, WP 11.2. ± 1.65, p. < 0.01). During social gathering, WP subjects who consumed ecstasy reported a significant decrease in depressive symptoms (F(1,35) = 5.47, p. < 0.05). Conclusions: A decrease in depressive symptoms was observed in subjects predisposed to depression. This antidepressant-like action of MDMA may contribute to its use, particularly among people with an existing or latent depressive disorder.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1189-1192
    Number of pages4
    JournalAddictive Behaviors
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


    • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamhetamine
    • Depressive symptoms
    • Ecstasy
    • MDMA
    • Predisposition to depression


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