Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Diversity of Psychopathology Associated with use of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (‘Ecstasy’)

  • Philip K. Mcguire (a1), Helen Cope (a1) and Thomas A. Fahy (a2)
Abstract
Background

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ‘Ecstasy’) has become one of the most widely used illicit substances in the UK. Little is known of the psychiatric morbidity which may be associated with its use. We have examined this association by collecting a series of psychiatric cases in which MDMA use was a prominent feature.

Method

Patients presenting between 1990 and 1992 with psychiatric symptoms which developed in the context of MDMA use (n = 13) were interviewed, and their psychiatric, medical and drug history, sociodemographic background and mental state were examined in detail. The psychopathology of cases with psychosis (n = 8) was assessed with the Present State Examination and compared with that of substance-naïve psychotic controls (n = 40).

Results

Eight patients presented with psychotic syndromes, two experienced visual illusions, hallucinations and palinopsia, one had panic attacks, one suffered from depression, and one described chronic depersonalisation and derealisation. The psychopathology of the patients with psychoses was very similar to that of controls.

Conclusions

Use of MDMA may be associated with a broader spectrum of psychiatric morbidity than heretofore suspected. Cases with psychosis may be clinically similar to psychotic patients with no history of substance use.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr McGuire, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF
References
Hide All
Baumgartner, W. A., Hill, V. A. & Bland, W. H. (1989) Hair analysis for drugs of abuse. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 34, 14331453.
Benazzi, F. & Mazzoli, M. (1991) Psychiatric illness associated with ‘ecstasy’. Lancet, 338, 1520.
Breakey, W. R., Goodell, H., Lorenz, P. C., et al (1974) Hallucinogenic drugs as precipitants of schizophrenia. Psychological Medicine, 4, 255261.
Creighton, F. J., Black, D. L. & Hyde, C. E. (1991) ‘Ecstasy’ psychosis and flashbacks. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 713715.
Ellis, P. & Schimmel, P. (1989) Ecstasy abuse. New Zealand Medical Journal, 102, 358.
Hayner, G. N. & McKinney, H. (1986) The dark side of ecstasy. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 18, 341347.
Jones, P. B., Bebbington, P., Forester, A., et al (1992) Premorbid social underachievement in schizophrenia. Results from the Camberwell Collaborative Psychosis Study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 6571.
Keshavan, M. S. & Lishman, W. A. (1986) Prolonged depersonalisation following cannabis abuse. British Journal of Addiction, 41, 140142.
McGuire, P. & Fahy, T. (1991a) Chronic paranoid psychosis after misuse of MDMA (‘Ecstasy’). British Medical Journal, 302, 697.
McGuire, P. & Fahy, T. (1991b) Flashbacks following MDMA. British Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 276.
McGuire, P., Jones, P., Harvey, I., et al (1994) Cannabis and acute psychosis. Schizophrenia Research (in press).
McKenna, D. J. & Petrouka, S. J. (1990) Neurochemistry and neurotoxicity of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ‘Ecstasy’). Journal of Neurochemistry, 54, 1422.
Price, L. P., Ricaurte, G. A., Krystal, J. H., et al (1989) Neuroendocrine and mood response to intravenous L-tryptophan in MDMA users. Archives of General Psychiatry, 46, 2022.
Ricaurte, G. A., Martello, A. L., Katz, J. L., et al (1992) Lasting effects of 3,4 MDMA on central serotonergic neurons in non-human primates. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 251, 616622.
Schifano, F. (1991) Chronic atypical psychosis associated with MDMA (‘Ecstasy’) abuse. Lancet, 338, 1335.
Vardy, M. M. & Kay, S. R. (1983) LSD psychosis or LSD-induced schizophrenia? Archives of General Psychiatry, 40, 877883.
Whittaker-Azmitia, P. M. & Aronson, T. A. (1989) ‘Ecstasy’ (MDMA)-induced panic. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 119.
Wing, J. K., Cooper, J. E. & Sartorius, N. (1983) The Measurement and Classification of Psychiatric Symptoms. Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Diversity of Psychopathology Associated with use of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (‘Ecstasy’)

  • Philip K. Mcguire (a1), Helen Cope (a1) and Thomas A. Fahy (a2)
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *