Stronger Ecstasy a risk to mental health

Long-term problems

Studies in animals and humans have shown that the level of serotonin in the brains of Ecstasy users is much lower (when not using the drug) than in the brains of non-users.[ii] It's thought that the massive surge of serotonin released by high doses of MDMA actually causes the death of serotonin-releasing brain cells. Over time the brain will have less and less serotonin available for normal functioning which could lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and even psychosis.

This is borne out in a more recent study investigating depression, sleep and memory problems in Ecstasy users. With nearly a thousand participants, people who had taken Ecstasy (past or present) scored worse than all the control groups in ten out of thirteen psychiatric tests. [iii] The authors conclude that the outlook for the current generation of Ecstasy users is a major cause for concern.

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[i] European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2016), Recent changes in Europe's MDMA/ecstasy market, EMCDDA Rapid Communication, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. Accessed online at

[ii] Kalant H; The pharmacology and toxicology of "ecstasy" (MDMA) and related drugs; Canadian Medical Association Journal: CMAJ. 2001 Oct 2; 165(7): 917-928. Accessed online at

[iii] Taurah L, Chandler C, Sanders G; Depression, impulsiveness, sleep, and memory in past and present polydrug users of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy); Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Feb;231(4):737-51. Accessed online (abstract) at


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