You may have heard some interesting news about methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) recently. Researchers are studying the drug for its potential benefits in treating certain mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.
Maybe this has you wondering about its usefulness for treating other conditions such as bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a complex mood disorder that affects around
The exact cause of the condition is still unknown, which can make diagnosis and treatment challenging.
Presently, MDMA isn’t being studied for use with bipolar disorder. Scientists worry that using MDMA may trigger mania or other mood-related symptoms for people with bipolar disorder.
Let’s take a closer look at MDMA’s effects on bipolar disorder.
Also known as “ecstasy” or “molly,” MDMA has both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. It increases levels of the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and, to a lesser extent, dopamine.
Increased serotonin levels may provide positive effects such as pleasure, increased energy, and elevated mood. As the effects lessen, though, the lower levels of serotonin in the body may make depression and irritability worse, and cause memory problems. Long-term use of high doses of MDMA can
Currently, MDMA is a Schedule I category drug based on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) controlled substance regulations. This means it has a high potential for misuse and addiction and is illegal to use, buy, or sell.
Today, the drug is legally available to scientists through research studies for medical use purposes. But this may soon change based on the results of ongoing studies.
MDMA side effects can include:
- agitation, restlessness, hostility (after use)
- high blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- increased body temperature
- hot flashes
- jaw clenching
- loss of appetite
- muscle stiffness
- unclear thoughts
Effects from long-term use include:
- muscle aches
- panic attacks
- sleep problems
- loss of appetite
- memory problems
- severe depression
- serious kidney problems
- heart problems
There’s still a lot we don’t know about MDMA’s side effects based on
Can MDMA cause bipolar disorder?
Most likely not. However, there have been
It’s difficult to pinpoint whether MDMA or something else led to psychosis in these cases. Since the drug isn’t regulated, it’s often tainted. People may also use other substances such as cannabis along with MDMA, which increases the risk of psychosis.
So, it’s possible for MDMA to cause psychosis in some people. More research is needed to understand the relationship between MDMA use and psychosis, including risks for those who have bipolar disorder. Research
Using recreational MDMA if you have bipolar disorder may be risky for several reasons.
- possible worsening of your condition
- serious side effects
- drug interactions with other medications you may be taking
Keep in mind, your specific reaction to MDMA will depend on many factors, such as:
- your age
- using other substances that may be mixed with illegal MDMA
- your mental health
- other medications you may be taking
- your overall health condition
There are several types of bipolar disorder, and symptoms (mania, hypomania, or depression) vary based on the type. The effects of MDMA may depend on both the type of disorder and the particular phase of the condition you’re experiencing.
MDMA may provoke a manic episode in some people with bipolar disorder because the drug increases serotonin levels. Once the effects of MDMA start to wear off, low serotonin levels may trigger depression.
Your reaction to MDMA depends on the severity of your condition and the phase of bipolar you’re experiencing.
There’s still a lot we don’t know. This is why scientists believe more research is needed to learn about the safety of MDMA for bipolar disorder.
Can MDMA be used to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Scientists are currently studying the potential benefits of
Experts believe it’s risky to use recreational MDMA with bipolar disorder because it can potentially trigger an episode of psychosis or other mood changes. The drug can also interact with commonly used prescription medications used to treat bipolar disorder and cause serious reactions such as serotonin syndrome.
There are several types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder.
- anticonvulsants (divalproex sodium, valproic acid)
- antipsychotics (risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine)
- benzodiazepines (alprazolam, diazepam)
- fluoxetine/olanzapine (Symbyax)
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) – phenelzine, tranylcypromine
- serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – citalopram, fluoxetine,
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) – desvenlafaxine, duloxetine
- tricyclic antidepressants – amitriptyline, nortriptyline
Some common side effects of these medications and MDMA include:
- muscle-related problems
- dry mouth
- increased blood pressure
- fast heart rate
Medications such as SSRIs can
- fast heart rate
- raised body temperature
- muscle spasms
- nausea, vomiting
If you feel you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or local emergency services or go to an emergency medical center right away.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, your doctor will discuss various treatment options. These include:
- lifestyle changes
The best treatment for you depends on your specific symptoms and how you respond to treatment and therapy. Taking your medications as prescribed along with therapy is an important part of staying healthy.
Taking recreational MDMA on your own could lead to serious side effects or
MDMA is currently not regulated. Products available recreationally are often laced with other substances, which can cause unknown reactions. If you have questions about whether MDMA could help with your symptoms, talk with a doctor first.
There’s promising research ongoing looking into MDMA’s benefits for treating various mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. New research shows promise, and we should learn more soon.
If you have a mental health condition and are looking for help or support, several organizations have resources available.
Here’s a list of organizations you can consider contacting:
- SAMHSA Treatment Provider Locator
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Find a Therapist Directory
- National Alliance on Mental Health
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK
- Veterans Crisis Line (for veterans)
- Health Center Program (for people who are uninsured or have minimal insurance)
- Indian Health Service (for those of Native American descent)