Dose-Response Study of MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy in People With PTSD

This Phase 2 pilot study examined the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in 23 subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD

The study assessed the change in symptoms of PTSD, as measured by the Clinical Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) as well as symptoms of depression, as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II) from baseline enrollment to one month after the second MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session (primary endpoint).

Participants who received the comparator dose of MDMA (40 mg) were given the option to enroll in Stage 2, where they underwent three open-label MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions with an active dose of MDMA. People who received either of the active doses of MDMA in Stage 1 had a third MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session with another active dose of MDMA.

Status Completed
Results Published Yes
Start date 01 October 2012
End date 01 February 2017
Chance of happening 100%
Phase Phase II
Design Blinded
Type Interventional
Generation First
Participants 29
Sex All
Age 18- 99
Therapy No

Trial Details

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating psychiatric disorder that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event, such as sexual assault, war, or any other life-threatening event. PTSD is a worldwide health problem that severely reduces a person's quality of life and is associated with high rates of psychiatric and medical comorbidity, disability, suffering, and suicide. At least a third of PTSD patients fail to respond to established PTSD psychotherapies. A wider array of effective treatments for PTSD are needed. 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy may be a potential treatment option for PTSD. MDMA is a monoamine releaser that affects serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. MDMA is capable of inducing unique psychopharmacological effects such as decreased feelings of fear, increased feelings of wellbeing, increased sociability and extroversion, increased interpersonal trust, and an alert state of consciousness. In the U.S., MDMA was used as an adjunct to psychotherapy by a considerable number of psychiatrists and therapists before it was placed in Schedule I in 1985 as a result of non-medical use. This Phase 2 pilot study is a randomized, double-blind, dose response study to examine the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in 23 subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD of at least six months duration. This study is part of a global series of Phase 2 pilot clinical trials. This study assessed two active doses of MDMA, active dose 1 (100 mg) and active dose 2 (125 mg), to a comparator dose of MDMA (40 mg) during psychotherapy sessions. The initial dose of MDMA was followed 1.5 to 2.5 hours later by an optional supplemental dose of MDMA that was half the size of the first dose. MDMA was administered orally in two experimental sessions lasting up to eight hours and scheduled three to five weeks apart. Subjects were prepared for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in three preparatory sessions prior to the first experimental session, and worked with the same pair of therapists throughout the study. After each experimental session, three integrative sessions were scheduled with the subject, including one integrative session the morning after the experimental session. During integrative sessions, subjects processed and connected their thoughts and feelings about the experience with their therapist team. Subjects who received the comparator dose (40 mg) were given the option to enroll in Stage 2, where they underwent three open-label MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions. 100 mg of MDMA was administered in the first session and therapists determined whether to increase to 125 mg of MDMA for the second and third experimental sessions. People who received 125 mg of MDMA during the first two experimental sessions received the same dose during an open-label third experimental session. People who received 100 mg of MDMA during the first two sessions were able to choose, in consultation with their therapist, to either continue to receive 100 mg in a third session or to increase their dose to 125 mg. A blinded independent rater (IR) assessed the severity of PTSD symptoms at baseline, one month after the second experimental session (the primary endpoint), two months after the third open-label experimental session, and at equivalent points in Stage 2.

NCT Number NCT01793610

Sponsors & Collaborators

MAPS stands for Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, it's the front runner in making psychedelics a legal way to use (and improve) in therapy.


Long-term Follow-Up Outcomes of MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy for Treatment of PTSD: A Longitudinal Pooled Analysis of Six Phase 2 Trials
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy showed a very large effect (d=1.58, 56% no longer met PTSD criteria) which improved at 12-months follow-up (d=0.43, 67%).

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized phase 2 controlled trial
This double-blind, between-subjects study (n=26) on the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared the effectiveness of two higher (100-125mg) with one lower dose (40mg) of MDMA in combination with psychotherapy. One month after two sessions, the higher doses of MDMA showed the largest reduction on a PTSD Scale. At the 12-month follow-up, PTSD symptoms remained lower than baseline with 75% of the participants not meeting PTSD criteria.

Measures Used

Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5
The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) is often considered the gold standard in PTSD assessment. The 30-item structured interview was developed by staff at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Centre for PTSD. CAPS can be used to make a current diagnosis, lifetime diagnosis or assess PTSD symptoms over the past week in accordance with DSM-5 criteria.

Beck Depression Inventory
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) contains 21 self-report items, completed using a multiple-choice format. Scores range from 0-63 with higher scores associated with more severe depression.

Data attribution

A large set of the trials in our database are sourced from (CTG). We have modified these post to display the information in a more clear format or to correct spelling mistakes. Our database in actively updated and may show a different status (e.g. completed) if we have knowledge of this update (e.g. a published paper on the study) which isn't reflected yet on CTG. If a trial is not sourced from CTG, this is indicated on this page and you can follow the link to the alternative source of information.