MDMA-Assisted Therapy for PTSD

The safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted therapy is currently under investigation. It is not yet approved by the FDA, does not work for everyone, and carries risks even in therapeutic settings. 

PTSD affects millions of people worldwide

9M adults in the US suffer from PTSD every year

350M+ people suffer from PTSD worldwide

Sources: US Prevalence: Kessler, et al., Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, Archives of Gen Psych, 2005.
Global Prevalence: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-in-adults-epidemiology-pathophysiology-clinical-manifestations-course-assessment-and-diagnosis
PTSD War Population: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394282/pdf/zept-10-1578637.pdf

Why MDMA?

MDMA is capable of inducing unique psychopharmacological effects, such as: 

  • Decreased feelings of fear and defensiveness
  • Increased feelings of wellbeing
  • Increased sociability and extroversion 
  • Increased interpersonal trust 
  • An alert state of consciousness 

MAPS is currently sponsoring MAPP2, the second of two Phase 3 trials to support FDA approval of this Breakthrough-designated therapy.

In our first Phase 3 study, 67% of participants with severe PTSD no longer met PTSD diagnostic criteria two months after their third session of MDMA-assisted therapy, compared to 32% of placebo participants.

Additionally, 33% of participants in the MDMA group compared to 5% of participants in the placebo group met the criteria for PTSD remission after three sessions.

Our Studies

How Does MDMA-Assisted Therapy Work?

  • MDMA-assisted therapy is delivered during three 8-hour sessions, scheduled three to five weeks apart, along with 12 non-drug therapy sessions to aid with preparation and integration.
  • MDMA is a triple reuptake inhibitor that produces anxiolytic and prosocial effects through the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • MDMA also increases the release of oxytocin and prolactin (hormones associated with trust and bonding) as well as hormones that influence the HPA axis and stress response.
  • MDMA decreases activity in the left amygdala (associated with fear and trauma) which may allow patients to more openly discuss their memories in therapy.

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