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MIDWEEK MINDSET: MDMA drug may help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, study suggests

Publication date: May 2, 2018 Author: Gem Sofianos

Hi, it’s Gem here with your midweek round up of mental health news.

MDMA drug may help in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, study suggests

Combining ecstasy drug MDMA and psychotherapy may help people who have experienced traumatic events recover, early research has found.

According to the Press Association (PA) US scientists have undertaken an experimental pilot study combining MDMA treatment with psychotherapy when working with those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study involved 22 military veterans, three firefighters and a police officer who had all been diagnosed with PTSD ‘resulting from events they had experienced or witnessed during their service,’ the news agency reports.

‘Our study suggests that MDMA might help augment the psychotherapeutic experiences and may have a role to play in the future treatment of PTSD,’ Lead researcher Dr Allison Feduccia, from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Santa Cruz, California, told PA.

‘However, we would certainly not recommend that individuals try these drugs for the treatment of psychiatric disorders without the support from trained psychotherapists.’

MDMA is a Class A drug in the UK and is usually associated as a recreational drug. The drug was administered during eight-hour specially adapted psychotherapy sessions, which were followed up by an overnight stay in a clinic, seven days of telephone contact, and three further 90 minutes sessions of psychotherapy, PA said.

Responding to the findings Dr Michael Bloomfield, clinical lecturer in general psychiatry at University College London, told PA: ‘This new, well conducted study adds to fascinating research which suggests that MDMA may be a candidate drug in a future era of medicine-assisted psychotherapy.’

However he said that more research was needed to uncover the beneficial effects of such treatments and warned: ‘Survivors of trauma who are experiencing PTSD should not try this on themselves because of the risks associated with street ecstasy and the need for good quality psychiatric care including psychotherapy in recovering from PTSD.’

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People with serious mental health problems suffer neglect and discrimination when detained, review finds

An independent review of the Mental Health Act has found that people with serious mental health problems are suffering neglect and discrimination when detained for treatment.

Interim findings from the review commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that people with serious mental health problems who are detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) are being neglected and discriminated against, the Guardian reports.

Prof Sir Simon Wessely, who chaired the review, said: ‘People with the most severe forms of mental illness have the greatest needs and continue to be the most neglected and discriminated against.’

‘Furthermore, they are also the group who are the most likely to be subject to the influence and powers of the Mental Health Act.’

The prime minister commissioned the inquiry in October last year to look into the operation of the act as more and more people were being detained.

‘We have heard time and time again service users raise serious issues about the manner in which they were previously detained under the MHA and the circumstances of their stay in hospital,’ the report said.

The report also found ‘that disproportionate numbers of black people are being sectioned and have the worst experience while in detention,’ the Guardian said.

The report states: ‘Experience of people from black African and Caribbean heritage are particularly poor and they are detained more than any other group. Too often this can result in police becoming involved at time of crisis. The causes of this disparity are complex.’

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Mid-life anxiety possibly linked to later life dementia, researchers find

Anxiety in middle age could be linked to dementia in later life, according to researchers.

Analysis of existing data published in journal BMJ Open, found that ‘clinically significant anxiety in midlife was associated with an increased risk of dementia over an interval of at least 10 years.’ Suggesting that anxiety ‘may be a risk factor’ for late-life dementia.

Researchers from the University of Southampton and University College of London, who carried out the study, said: ‘Whether reducing anxiety in middle age would result in reduced risk of dementia remains an open question.’

‘The effect of treatment of anxiety using pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies during midlife on later risk for dementia has not yet been investigated.’

‘It is possible that diverse non-pharmacological therapies, including talking therapies and mindfulness-based interventions and meditation practices, that are known to reduce anxiety in midlife, could have a risk-reducing effect, although this is yet to be thoroughly researched,’ they added.

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In case you missed it…

‘It’s time to end the workplace taboo around mental health’Lloyds Banking Group CEO António Horta-Osório explains why it’s time to change attitudes to mental health in the workplace and how they support their colleagues.

‘Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity’ – US experts suggest that loneliness maybe more harmful than obesity and that loneliness has hit epidemic levels in the US.