OPEN Foundation

L. Jerome

MDMA-facilitated cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an uncontrolled trial

Abstract

Cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy (CBCT) for PTSD has been shown to improve PTSD, relationship adjustment, and the health and well-being of partners. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) has been used to facilitate an individual therapy for PTSD. This study was an initial test of the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of MDMA-facilitated CBCT. Six couples with varying levels of baseline relationship satisfaction in which one partner was diagnosed with PTSD participated in a condensed version of the 15-session CBCT protocol delivered over 7 weeks. There were two sessions in which both members of the couple were administered MDMA. All couples completed the treatment protocol, and there were no serious adverse events in either partner. There were significant improvements in clinician-assessed, patient-rated, and partner-rated PTSD symptoms (pre- to post-treatment/follow-up effect sizes ranged from d = 1.85-3.59), as well as patient depression, sleep, emotion regulation, and trauma-related beliefs. In addition, there were significant improvements in patient and partner-rated relationship adjustment and happiness (d =.64-2.79). These results are contextualized in relation to prior results from individual MDMA-facilitated psychotherapy and CBCT for PTSD alone. MDMA holds promise as a facilitator of CBCT to achieve more robust and broad effects on individual and relational functioning in those with PTSD and their partners.

Monson, C. M., Wagner, A. C., Mithoefer, A. T., Liebman, R. E., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., Doblin, R., & Mithoefer, M. C. (2020). MDMA-facilitated cognitive-behavioural conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: an uncontrolled trial. European journal of psychotraumatology, 11(1), 1840123. https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2020.1840123

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MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of anxiety and other psychological distress related to life-threatening illnesses: a randomized pilot study

Abstract

The success of modern medicine creates a growing population of those suffering from life-threatening illnesses (LTI) who often experience anxiety, depression, and existential distress. We present a novel approach; investigating MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of anxiety in people with an LTI. Participants with anxiety from an LTI were randomized in a double-blind study to receive MDMA (125 mg, n = 13) or placebo (n = 5) in combination with two 8-h psychotherapy sessions. The primary outcome was change in State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) Trait scores from baseline to one month post the second experimental session. After unblinding, participants in the MDMA group had one open-label MDMA session and placebo participants crossed over to receive three open-label MDMA sessions. Additional follow-up assessments occurred six and twelve months after a participant’s last experimental session. At the primary endpoint, the MDMA group had a greater mean (SD) reduction in STAI-Trait scores, – 23.5 (13.2), indicating less anxiety, compared to placebo group, – 8.8 (14.7); results did not reach a significant group difference (p = .056). Hedges’ g between-group effect size was 1.03 (95% CI: – 5.25, 7.31). Overall, MDMA was well-tolerated in this sample. These preliminary findings can inform development of larger clinical trials to further examine MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a novel approach to treat individuals with LTI-related anxiety.Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02427568, first registered April 28, 2015.

Wolfson, P. E., Andries, J., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Wang, J. B., Williams, E., Carlin, S. C., Sola, E., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., Mithoefer, M. C., & Doblin, R. (2020). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of anxiety and other psychological distress related to life-threatening illnesses: a randomized pilot study. Scientific reports, 10(1), 20442. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75706-1

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Discontinuation of medications classified as reuptake inhibitors affects treatment response of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy

Abstract

Rationale: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy is under investigation as a novel treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The primary mechanism of action of MDMA involves the same reuptake transporters targeted by antidepressant medications commonly prescribed for PTSD.

Objectives: Data were pooled from four phase 2 trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. To explore the effect of tapering antidepressant medications, participants who had been randomized to receive active doses of MDMA (75-125 mg) were divided into two groups (taper group (n = 16) or non-taper group (n = 34)).

Methods: Between-group comparisons were made for PTSD and depression symptom severity at the baseline and the primary endpoint, and for peak vital signs across two MDMA sessions.

Results: Demographics, baseline PTSD, and depression severity were similar between the taper and non-taper groups. At the primary endpoint, the non-taper group (mean = 45.7, SD = 27.17) had a significantly (p = 0.009) lower CAPS-IV total scores compared to the taper group (mean = 70.3, SD = 33.60). More participants in the non-taper group (63.6%) no longer met PTSD criteria at the primary endpoint than those in the taper group (25.0%). The non-taper group (mean = 12.7, SD = 10.17) had lower depression symptom severity scores (p = 0.010) compared to the taper group (mean = 22.6, SD = 16.69). There were significant differences between groups in peak systolic blood pressure (p = 0.043) and diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.032).

Conclusions: Recent exposure to antidepressant drugs that target reuptake transporters may reduce treatment response to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Mithoefer, M. C., & Holland, J. (2021). Discontinuation of medications classified as reuptake inhibitors affects treatment response of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Psychopharmacology, 238(2), 581–588. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05710-w

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Integrating psychotherapy and psychopharmacology: psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and other combined treatments

Abstract

Introduction: Combinations of psychotherapy with antidepressants are gold-standard psychiatric treatments. They operate through complex and interactional mechanisms, not unlike the reemergent paradigm of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, which promising research suggests may also be highly effective in even challenging populations.
Areas covered: We review the therapeutic mechanisms behind both conventional and psychedelic paradigms, including the evolution of this knowledge and the associated explanatory frameworks. We explore how psychedelics have provided insights about psychiatric illnesses and treatments over the past decades. We discuss limitations to early explanatory models while highlighting and comparing the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying many psychiatric treatments.
Methods: A narrative review was conducted based on a search in Medline/Pubmed up to January 1st, 2020, and iterative retrieval of references from recent reviews and clinical trials.
Expert opinion: The contextual model of the common factors of psychotherapy provides a powerful perspective on psychotherapy, antidepressants, and psychedelics, as well as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and ketamine. It aligns well with key tenets of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Conventional antidepressants and especially psychedelics may improve the efficacy of psychotherapy via neurochemical changes and increased environmental sensitivity. Combined treatments hold significant promise for advancing the knowledge and treatment of many forms of psychopathology.

Keywords: Psychedelics; antidepressants; ketamine; ketamine-assisted psychotherapy; lsd; mdma; mdma-assisted psychotherapy; psilocybin; psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy; psychiatry; psychotherapy.
Greenway, K. T., Garel, N., Jerome, L., & Feduccia, A. A. (2020). Integrating psychotherapy and psychopharmacology: psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and other combined treatments. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, 1-15., https://doi.org/10.1080/17512433.2020.1772054
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Long-term follow-up outcomes of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: a longitudinal pooled analysis of six phase 2 trials

Abstract

Rationale: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic condition that has wide-ranging negative effects on an individual’s health and interpersonal relationships. Treatments with long-term benefits are needed to promote the safety and well-being of those suffering from PTSD.

Objectives: To examine long-term change in PTSD symptoms and additional benefits/harms after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD.

Methods: Participants received two to three active doses of MDMA (75-125 mg) during blinded or open-label psychotherapy sessions with additional non-drug therapy sessions. PTSD symptoms were assessed using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM IV (CAPS-IV) at baseline, 1 to 2 months after the last active MDMA session (treatment exit), and at least 12 months post final MDMA session (LTFU). A mixed-effect repeated-measures (MMRM) analysis assessed changes in CAPS-IV total severity scores. The number of participants who met PTSD diagnostic criteria was summarized at each time point. Participants completed a long-term follow-up questionnaire.

Results: There was a significant reduction in CAPS-IV total severity scores from baseline to treatment exit (LS mean (SE) = – 44.8 (2.82), p < .0001), with a Cohen’s d effect size of 1.58 (95% CI = 1.24, 1.91). CAPS-IV scores continued to decrease from treatment exit to LTFU (LS mean (SE) = – 5.2 (2.29), p < .05), with a Cohen’s d effect size of 0.23 (95% CI = 0.04, 0.43). The number of participants who no longer met PTSD criteria increased from treatment exit (56.0%) to LTFU (67.0%). The majority of participants reported benefits, including improved relationships and well-being, and a minority reported harms from study participation.

Conclusions: PTSD symptoms were reduced 1 to 2 months after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and symptom improvement continued at least 12 months post-treatment. Phase 3 trials are investigating this novel treatment approach in a larger sample of participants with chronic PTSD.

Jerome, L., Feduccia, A. A., Wang, J. B., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., Mithoefer, M. C., & Doblin, R. (2020). Long-term follow-up outcomes of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: a longitudinal pooled analysis of six phase 2 trials. Psychopharmacology, 237(8), 2485–2497. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05548-2

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Long-term Follow-Up Outcomes of MDMA-assisted Psychotherapy for Treatment of PTSD: A Longitudinal Pooled Analysis of Six Phase 2 Trials

Abstract

Rationale: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic condition that has wide-ranging negative effects on an individual’s health and interpersonal relationships. Treatments with long-term benefits are needed to promote the safety and well-being of those suffering from PTSD.
Objectives: To examine long-term change in PTSD symptoms and additional benefits/harms after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD.
Methods: Participants received two to three active doses of MDMA (75-125 mg) during blinded or open-label psychotherapy sessions with additional non-drug therapy sessions. PTSD symptoms were assessed using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM IV (CAPS-IV) at baseline, 1 to 2 months after the last active MDMA session (treatment exit), and at least 12 months post final MDMA session (LTFU). A mixed-effect repeated-measures (MMRM) analysis assessed changes in CAPS-IV total severity scores. The number of participants who met PTSD diagnostic criteria was summarized at each time point. Participants completed a long-term follow-up questionnaire.
Results: There was a significant reduction in CAPS-IV total severity scores from baseline to treatment exit (LS mean (SE) = – 44.8 (2.82), p < .0001), with a Cohen’s d effect size of 1.58 (95% CI = 1.24, 1.91). CAPS-IV scores continued to decrease from treatment exit to LTFU (LS mean (SE) = – 5.2 (2.29), p < .05), with a Cohen’s d effect size of 0.23 (95% CI = 0.04, 0.43). The number of participants who no longer met PTSD criteria increased from treatment exit (56.0%) to LTFU (67.0%). The majority of participants reported benefits, including improved relationships and well-being, and a minority reported harms from study participation.
Conclusions: PTSD symptoms were reduced 1 to 2 months after MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and symptom improvement continued at least 12 months post-treatment. Phase 3 trials are investigating this novel treatment approach in a larger sample of participants with chronic PTSD.

Jerome, L., Feduccia, A. A., Wang, J. B., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., … & Doblin, R. (2020). Long-term follow-up outcomes of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: a longitudinal pooled analysis of six phase 2 trials. Psychopharmacology., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05548-2
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Posttraumatic Growth After MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Abstract

3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been shown to significantly reduce clinical symptomatology, but posttraumatic growth (PTG), which consists of positive changes in self-perception, interpersonal relationships, or philosophy of life, has not been studied with this treatment. Participant data (n = 60) were pooled from three Phase 2 clinical studies employing triple-blind crossover designs. Participants were required to meet DSM-IV-R criteria for PTSD with a score higher than 50 on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-IV) as well as previous inadequate response to pharmacological and/or psychotherapeutic treatment. Data were aggregated into two groups: an active MDMA dose group (75-125 mg of MDMA; n = 45) or placebo/active control (0-40 mg of MDMA; n = 15). Measures included the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) and the CAPS-IV, which were administered at baseline, primary endpoint, treatment exit, and 12-month follow-up. At primary endpoint, the MDMA group demonstrated more PTG, Hedges’ g = 1.14, 95% CI [0.49, 1.78], p < .001; and a larger reduction in PTSD symptom severity, Hedges’ g = 0.88, 95% CI [-0.28, 1.50], p < .001, relative to the control group. Relative to baseline, at the 12-month follow-up, within-subject PTG was higher, p < .001; PTSD symptom severity scores were lower, p < .001; and two-thirds of participants (67.2%) no longer met criteria for PTSD. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD resulted in PTG and clinical symptom reductions of large-magnitude effect sizes. Results suggest that PTG may provide a new mechanism of action warranting further study.

Gorman, I., Belser, A. B., Jerome, L., Hennigan, C., Shechet, B., Hamilton, S., Yazar-Klosinski, B., Emerson, A., & Feduccia, A. A. (2020). Posttraumatic Growth After MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of traumatic stress, 33(2), 161–170. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22479

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Posttraumatic Growth After MDMA‐Assisted Psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Abstract

3,4‐Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)–assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been shown to significantly reduce clinical symptomatology, but posttraumatic growth (PTG), which consists of positive changes in self‐perception, interpersonal relationships, or philosophy of life, has not been studied with this treatment. Participant data (n = 60) were pooled from three Phase 2 clinical studies employing triple‐blind crossover designs. Participants were required to meet DSM‐IV‐R criteria for PTSD with a score higher than 50 on the Clinician‐Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS‐IV) as well as previous inadequate response to pharmacological and/or psychotherapeutic treatment. Data were aggregated into two groups: an active MDMA dose group (75–125 mg of MDMA; n = 45) or placebo/active control (0–40 mg of MDMA; n = 15). Measures included the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) and the CAPS‐IV, which were administered at baseline, primary endpoint, treatment exit, and 12‐month follow‐up. At primary endpoint, the MDMA group demonstrated more PTG, Hedges’ g = 1.14, 95% CI [0.49, 1.78], p < .001; and a larger reduction in PTSD symptom severity, Hedges’ g = 0.88, 95% CI [−0.28, 1.50], p < .001, relative to the control group. Relative to baseline, at the 12‐month follow‐up, within‐subject PTG was higher, p < .001; PTSD symptom severity scores were lower, p < .001; and two‐thirds of participants (67.2%) no longer met criteria for PTSD. MDMA‐assisted psychotherapy for PTSD resulted in PTG and clinical symptom reductions of large‐magnitude effect sizes. Results suggest that PTG may provide a new mechanism of action warranting further study.
Gorman, I., Belser, A. B., Jerome, L., Hennigan, C., Shechet, B., Hamilton, S., … & Feduccia, A. A. (2020). Posttraumatic Growth After MDMA‐Assisted Psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress., https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22479

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: study design and rationale for phase 3 trials based on pooled analysis of six phase 2 randomized controlled trials.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a prevalent mental health condition with substantial impact on daily functioning that lacks sufficient treatment options. Here we evaluate six phase 2 trials in a pooled analysis to determine the study design for phase 3 trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.
METHODS:
Six randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trials at five study sites were conducted from April 2004 to February 2017. Active doses of MDMA (75-125 mg, n = 72) or placebo/control doses (0-40 mg, n = 31) were administered to individuals with PTSD during manualized psychotherapy sessions in two or three 8-h sessions spaced a month apart. Three non-drug 90-min therapy sessions preceded the first MDMA exposure, and three to four followed each experimental session.
RESULTS:
After two blinded experimental sessions, the active group had significantly greater reductions in CAPS-IV total scores from baseline than the control group [MMRM estimated mean difference (SE) between groups - 22.0 (5.17), P < 0.001]. The between-group Cohen’s d effect size was 0.8, indicating a large treatment effect. After two experimental sessions, more participants in the active group (54.2%) did not meet CAPS-IV PTSD diagnostic criteria than the control group (22.6%). Depression symptom improvement on the BDI-II was greatest for the active group compared to the control group, although only trended towards significant group differences [MMRM, estimated mean difference (SE) between groups - 6.0 (3.03), P = 0.053]. All doses of MDMA were well tolerated, with some expected reactions occurring at greater frequency for the active MDMA group during experimental sessions and the 7 days following.
CONCLUSIONS:
MDMA-assisted psychotherapy was efficacious and well tolerated in a large sample of adults with PTSD. These studies supported expansion into phase 3 trials and led to FDA granting Breakthrough Therapy designation for this promising treatment.
Mithoefer, M. C., Feduccia, A. A., Jerome, L., Mithoefer, A., Wagner, M., Walsh, Z., … & Doblin, R. (2019). MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of PTSD: study design and rationale for phase 3 trials based on pooled analysis of six phase 2 randomized controlled trials. Psychopharmacology, 1-11., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-019-05249-5
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3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamineassisted psychotherapy for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized phase 2 controlled trial

Posttraumatic stress disorder often does not resolve after conventional psychotherapies or pharmacotherapies. Pilot studies have reported that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) combined with psychotherapy reduces posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.

This pilot dose response trial assessed efficacy and safety of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy across multiple therapy teams.

Twenty-eight people with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder were randomized in a double-blind dose response comparison of two active doses (100 and 125 mg) with a low dose (40 mg) of MDMA administered during eight-hour psychotherapy sessions. Change in the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale total scores one month after two sessions of MDMA served as the primary outcome. Active dose groups had one additional open-label session; the low dose group crossed over for three open-label active dose sessions. A 12-month follow-up assessment occurred after the final MDMA session.

In the intent-to-treat set, the active groups had the largest reduction in Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale total scores at the primary endpoint, with mean (standard deviation) changes of −26.3 (29.5) for 125 mg, −24.4 (24.2) for 100 mg, and −11.5 (21.2) for 40 mg, though statistical significance was reached only in the per protocol set (p=0.03). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms remained lower than baseline at 12-month follow-up (p<0.001) with 76% (n=25) not meeting posttraumatic stress disorder criteria. There were no drug-related serious adverse events, and the treatment was well-tolerated.

Our findings support previous investigations of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as an innovative, efficacious treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Ot’alora G, M., Grigsby, J., Poulter, B., Van Derveer III, J. W., Giron, S. G., Jerome, L., … & Mithoefer, M. C. (2018). 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized phase 2 controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology32(12), 1295-1307, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0269881118806297
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