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MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for treatment of anxiety and other psychological distress related to life threatening illnesses


New Treatment Options for Life Threatening Illness

Individuals facing, or who have faced, a life-threatening illness (LTI) contend with more than just the physical symptoms of their condition. Anxiety, depression, anger, and despair often exacerbate the distress already caused by the illness itself, even after a remission or cure is achieved. There is a great need for new treatment options to address the psychological distress associated with LTIs.

About the study

The unprecedented efficacy of MDMA in treating PTSD and anxiety has opened the door to also studying MDMA’s potential benefits for those with LTIs. This study examined the safety and efficacy of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to alleviate anxiety, depression, and poor sleep in patients with cancer or non-dementing neurological diseases.

The primary analysis indicated participants who received MDMA-assisted psychotherapy had greater reductions in anxiety compared to those in the placebo group, along with secondary benefits including improved mindfulness, sleep quality, and global functioning. Study results support the feasibility of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a novel approach for potential long-term treatment of LTI-related anxiety, and will inform development of future clinical trials with larger sample size.

Read the study