New Clinical Trials for PTSD & C-PTSD

A national radio broadcast emanating from Washington, DC, it's host having won major national awards for public broadcasting excellence at the White House recently -- ran an hour session yesterday, October 2, titled "Using Psychedelic Drugs to Treat Mental Disorders." The mental disorder referred to is PTSD and the major drug of choice goes under the street name Ecstasy.

You can reach the program, TheDiane Rehm Show, through iTunes to download their podcast or google

Very hopeful as you'll hear. May it lighten your day . . .

8 Replies

  • ANY psychedelic drugs, especially Ecstasy, are extremely dangerous. We all know the dangers of Ecstasy, but to use it to treat mental illness is unthinkable. We take someone who's already struggling to survive, and add the danger of these drugs, and it's a formula for failure. I'm very disturbed that there's even research into this kind of treatment....

  • I respect your concern. And I hope you will listen to the program I mentioned to hear those concerns addressed by scientific researchers with vast experience over several decades. There are differing opinions on the use of certain drugs until the trials are completed. The results to date have been extremely positive. Using certain drugs under therapeutic supervision is creating major breakthroughs for people with PTSD and various types of depressive disorders (potentially well over 70% of those with long term disability). These drugs are dangerous to some (not all) people when used recreationally. However, that is not being suggested and in fact the scientists involved in this work caution against attempting to cure oneself, and they note patients must be screened carefully for prior psychiatric illnesses before being admitted to a clinical trial. For example, these drugs are not being tested on those who had suffered bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.

    For those who are interested in being a part of a clinical trial (I would if I qualified -- others would choose differently) the current clinical trials are limited to members of the armed forces and firemen and I believe the police. An earlier study (the first) was directed to a different demographic with excellent, lasting results for the vast majority of clients.

    If one is a member of that demographic for a clinical trial and lives in one of the few cities where they are being performed, I think it's important to know you may have a choice to receive this type of help very soon if you quality.

  • Are you aware that Ecstacy (MDMA) alters the brain permanently? It does so in a way that's a bit like Parkinson's. So how is MDMA working on PTSD?

    Why does a "treatment" need "careful screening"?

    looking at this site I can see the long term CAPS score going from about 80 to about 20 over four years (no sample size or variance so powerpoint summary). But I also happen to know my own CAPS scores are comparable over equivalent time periods after conventional approaches and lots of meditation.

    Maybe I'll read the research details on another day.

  • Ok, I've read two of the research papers and they are worth reading (link above). So, the issues with them are:

    1. Small sample size - but they are dealing with the serious PTSD cases.

    2. Passive placebo - since MDMA raises BP and is a psychoactive both participant and therapist are aware of who is who. Active placeboes are known to have a stronger effect than passive ones and so in this case it ceases to be a blind trial.

    3. Offering MDMA treatment to the control group after first phase. This increases any placebo effect.

    4. The study was looking to prove the effectiveness of MDMA because the pharma is looking to create a market.

    I'm really happy to see hard data on this. Unfortunately, I don't think the study supports the MDMA idea due to the use of a passive placebo and treating the control group with MDMA.

    This may sound petty but the structure of the clinical trial often has a huge impact on the outcome especially if one outcome is strongly desired.

  • So you're saying that these drugs behave differently when used for recreation and for mental health issues? That makes no sense!

    are we supposed to purchase these drugs from you?

    Don't be silly!!!

  • Glad that questions are being raised. Having been managing editor of the foremost international pharmacology journal, working with medical research professors all day every day for five years -- I am seriously cautious about drug taking. I never met a practicing medical researcher who took any drug unless they absolutely had to -- they are unusually risk averse with regard to drugs (including alcohol & sugar). Doctors who are solely practitioners do not receive adequate training in pharmacology -- they depend on pharmaceutical drug representatives to teach them and it's obviously biased information more often than not. That's a significant problem for all of us.

    All this being said, there is reason to believe that hope is on the horizon for breakthroughs in pharmaceuticals for those with long term PTSD and depression. The advances in drugs for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, certain anxiety disorders, depression, and more -- have helped millions of people. The legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been of huge importance to tens of thousands of people undergoing chemotherapy, and has provided substantive relief from pain, nausea and other quality of life factors among the elderly and the permanently disabled.

    It's to society's benefit to encourage, allow & fund more research for PTSD.

    Let it be.

  • Research is only beneficial if it is true research.

    We know that SSRIs were hailed as a wonder drug but that was based on trial filtering. When meta analysis was done using all unpublished data it was sound to be no better than placebo.

    Fundamentally no drug has side-effects. Drugs have actions in the body some of which we call desirable and some which are not.

    The MDMA papers are annoying. I can imagine how MDMA used in the way it was - to help with recall and integration by making it less scary - could possibly work. But the trials didn't show that because they were using a passive placebo and thus invalidating their trial by failing to have a suitable control group.

    After the trauma I googled PTSD and given how I was and what I needed to deal with figured that I'm gonna need treatment at some point. So I researched lots of lightweight articles repeating "common knowledge" i.e. Myth.

    But I was suspcious so went looking for research papers for proper evidence. That changed my views somewhat.

    For the conditions you mention all we really know about the drugs are that they are psychoactives that alter the brain often permanently and are not really treating any particular condition, but instead changing people. They can also be highly addictive.

    Something like xanax is certainly psychologically adictive and may encourage avoidance of strong emotions.

    Johnsmith and I have overlapping reading lists.The current pharmco trend is towards long-term medication and "preventing" conditions that are as low as 10% probable.

    I don't share your optimism.

  • I hear you. You've done a lot of work toward understanding what might be available to help you, and not. Think that there are alternative methods which work for some of us and not for others. Also think that the best research on PTSD is coming out of other countries. PTSD is not a priority for our government, and is an enormous unmet problem for our veterans and our country. (Israel, for example, has a long standing, well-funded research program on PTSD.)

    All best to all of us on this forum to find the options that work. M. Rosenthal has done as great job in resourcing so many possibilities on our behalf. I don't think it's her place to delve into pharmaceuticals -- too complex, too great a potential for devastating legal consequences.

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