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Biological Perspectives: MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Brief Review of the Psychopharmacology of this Breakthrough Therapy for PTSD

June 1, 2018

The technology allowing us to better understand the neurobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has grown exponentially over the last decade (Illes et al., 2010).An emerging treatment—MDMA-assisted psychotherapy (MDMA-AP)—uses the psychoactive component found in the recreational drug ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) as a pharmacological adjunct to enhance psychotherapy. The results from several clinical trials have been so promising that the FDA has recently designated MDMA-AP as a “Breakthrough Therapy” (Bedi, 2018), meaning that it may be substantially more effective than currently available treatment options and research into its efficacy will be expedited. This is the first time that a treatment for PTSD has received such a designation.

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