This review (2023) explores the potential mechanisms behind the efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The article examines recent preclinical and clinical evidence, focusing on MDMA’s mnemonic (memory) effects, its impact on fear extinction and reconsolidation, and its relevance for PTSD treatment.
Abstract of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD … Memory effects
“The application of MDMA in conjunction with psychotherapy has in recent years seen a resurgence of clinical, scientific, and public interest in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Clinical trials have shown promising safety and efficacy, but the mechanisms underlying this treatment form remain largely unestablished. This article explores recent preclinical and clinical evidence suggesting that the treatment’s efficacy may be influenced by the mnemonic effects of MDMA. We review data on the effects of MDMA on fear extinction and fear reconsolidation and the utility of these processes for PTSD treatment. We corroborate our findings by incorporating research from cognitive psychology and psychopharmacology and offer recommendations for future research.“
Authors: Mesud Sarmanlu, Kim P. C. Kuypers, Patrick Vizeli & Timo L. Kvamme
Summary of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD … Memory effects
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has demonstrated compelling safety, effectiveness, endurance of treatment benefits, and superiority to extant treatment methods for PTSD, including in a recent randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled phase 3 clinical trial. However, the mechanisms mediating the clinical effectiveness of MDMA remain largely unconfirmed.
Studies within cognitive psychology suggest that the memory system exerts a significant influence in mediating PTSD development and maintenance. We will discuss the effects of MDMA on traumatic memories in this article.
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Sarmanlu, M., Kuypers, K. P., Vizeli, P., & Kvamme, T. L. (2023). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD: Growing evidence for memory effects mediating treatment efficacy. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 110843.
Authors associated with this publication with profiles on BlossomKim Kuypers
Kim Kuypers is a researcher at Maastricht University. Her work is concerned with understanding the neurobiology underlying flexible cognition, empathy, and well-being. One of the main ways she does is with the use of psychedelics.