Adverse effects of MDMA
MDMA works by affecting the release and re-uptake of certain chemicals in the brain that control our emotions and physical feelings. These 'neurotransmitters', which include serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline are used by brain cells to communicate with one another. Serotonin in particular is often called the 'happiness hormone' and is the target for many antidepressant medicines. MDMA blocks the re-uptake of serotonin by nerve cells, raising the amounts circulating in the brain. This gives rise to the pleasurable effects of the drug as well as many of the adverse effects.
Unwanted physical effects can include muscle tension, jaw-clenching, restless legs and a raised body temperature. Heartrate and blood pressure are also raised. Headache, nausea, loss of appetite, blurred vision, dry mouth and difficulty urinating have all been reported. In the days following MDMA use the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain 'crash' which can result in low mood, fatigue and anxiety.ii