Depressive Symptomatology in Young Adults with a History of MDMA Use: A Longitudinal Analysis

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Research suggests that methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)/`ecstasy' can cause serotonin depletion as well as serotonergic neurodegradation that may result in depression. This longitudinal study used the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) to assess depressive symptomatology every six months over a two-year period among a community sample of young adult MDMA/`ecstasy' users (n = 402). Multilevel growth modeling was used to analyze changes in BDI scores. Between baseline and 24 months, the mean BDI score declined from 9.8 to 7.7. Scores varied significantly across individuals at baseline and declined at a rate of 0.36 points every six months. Persons with higher baseline scores were more likely to have their scores decrease over time. Several factors were significantly associated with score levels, independent of time: gender — men's scores were lower than women's; ethnicity — whites' scores were lower than those of non-whites; education — persons with at least some university education had scores that were lower than those without any college experience; benzodiazepines — current users' scores were higher than non-users'; opioids — current users' scores were higher than non-users'; and cumulative ecstasy use — people who had used MDMA more than 50 times had scores that were higher than persons who had used the drug less often. The results reported here show low levels of depressive symptoms among a sample that, after 24 months, consisted of both current and former MDMA users. The low and declining mean scores suggest that for most people MDMA/`ecstasy' use does not result in long-term depressive symptomatology.



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