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MDMA (ecstasy) and mental health

3-minute read

MDMA is an illicit drug which can give users a euphoric rush after swallowing it. It has serious side effects, especially if it’s taken in a hot and humid environment. Long term use can lead to severe depression and memory problems.

MDMA is the presumed main ingredient in an illicit drug, commonly known as ecstasy, that comes in tablet form. These pills are known by a variety of other names, including eccy, disco biscuits, XTC, pills, pingers and molly. They might contain some MDMA or none at all.

MDMA effects

MDMA starts to work about 20 minutes after it is taken. Some people hallucinate, sweat, clench their jaws, grind their teeth and have tremors.

People can overheat and become dehydrated when using ecstasy in hot and humid conditions. Some people have died in this way. Drinking lots of water may be dangerous. People who take MDMA should take regular breaks to cool down, and sip water slowly. Read about the physical effects of MDMA.

Mental health issues

People who use MDMA regularly can get long term effects, such as reduced ability to control their emotions, problems with memory and concentration, personality changes and severe depression.

People who already have mental health problems should not take ecstasy. It could make them feel much worse.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues as a result of drug use, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

If you take MDMA while you are taking antidepressant medicines, you might become drowsy, clumsy, restless, dizzy and feel like you are drunk. You also have a risk of serotonin syndrome or toxicity caused by too much of the brain chemical serotonin. This may be caused by mixing MDMA with some antidepressant medicines or taking an overdose. Symptoms include agitation, confusion, very high temperature, possibly coma and death.

Coming down after taking MDMA leaves users feeling depressed, irritable, anxious and paranoid. They can have trouble sleeping and concentrating. There is also a ‘hangover effect’ where severe depression can last for days after taking it.

Kicking the habit

Long-term users can become dependent on MDMA. Withdrawal symptoms include not sleeping, feeling depressed, anxious, agitated and restless, and having trouble concentrating.

Find help on the National Drugs Campaign and Druginfo websites.

You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Druginfo on 1300 85 85 84 if you need to talk to someone about drugs.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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