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3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for victims of sexual abuse with severe post-traumatic stress disorder: an open label pilot study in Brazil

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Abstract

Objective: To conduct Brazil’s first clinical trial employing 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), given its high prevalence resulting from epidemic violence.

Methods: Of 60 volunteers, four matched the inclusion & exclusion criteria. Three patients with PTSD secondary to sexual abuse (diagnosed by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for DSMV-4 [CAPS 4]) completed enrollment and treatment, following a standardized Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies protocol consisting of 15 weekly therapy sessions: three with orally administered MDMA with concurrent psychotherapy and music, spaced approximately 1 month apart. CAPS-4 scores two months after the final MDMA session were the primary outcome.

Results: No serious adverse events occurred. The most frequent adverse events were somatic pains and anguish. CAPS-4 reductions were always greater than 25 points. The final scores were 61, 27, and 8, down from baseline scores of 90, 78, and 72, respectively. All reductions were greater than 30%, which is indicative of clinically significant improvement. Secondary outcomes included lower Beck Depressive Inventory scores and higher Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory and Global Assessment of Functioning scores.

Conclusions: Considering the current limitations in safe and efficacious treatments for PTSD and recent studies abroad with larger patient samples, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy could become a viable treatment in Brazil.

Jardim, A. V., Jardim, D. V., Chaves, B. R., Steglich, M., Ot’alora G, M., Mithoefer, M. C., … & Doblin, R. (2020). 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for victims of sexual abuse with severe post-traumatic stress disorder: an open label pilot study in Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, (AHEAD); 10.1590/1516-4446-2020-0980
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