Anxiety, arousal, depression and perceived physical on-drug exertion in users of ecstasy
C. Montgomery <Liverpool John Moores University>
Liverpool John Moores University
J.E. Fisk <University of Central Lancashire>
University of Central Lancashire
Background: Previous research suggests that the use of ecstasy (MDMA) is associated with elevated levels of depression and anxiety. This may in part be related to ecstasy-related degradation of the serotonin system. It has also been suggested that the neurotoxic potential of ecstasy is increased by environmental factors such as ambient temperature. The aim of the present study was to see if those ecstasy users who reported higher physical exertion (and thus higher body temperature) while on-drug also reported higher levels of depression and anxiety.
Methods: Sixty-two ecstasy users were recruited from a university population. All participants completed a number of laboratory-based tests including a mood adjective checklist and a physical exertion questionnaire incorporating the Borg Scale, which ascertained occasions and hours of physical exercise per week and perceived physical exertion. The participants were then split into groups according to their perceived physical on-drug exertion (i.e. high vs. low exertion).
Results: Analyses were performed splitting the ecstasy user group in three ways, according to their answers on the exertion scale. The high exertion ecstasy group rated themselves as more depressed and anxious, although there were no group differences on arousal. The means for interactions between the exertion variables suggest that ecstasy users who dance for more hours, on more occasions per week, with a higher perceived on-drug exertion report higher levels of depression and anxiety than those who do not.
Conclusions: The results provide further support for psychobiological complaints in ecstasy user. The possibility that such complaints are exacerbated by increased physical exertion while on-drug was supported by our data. Statistical analysis suggested that there was some link between the three exercise variables, although more research is needed to elucidate the relationship between perceived exertion, time spent dancing, and occasions of dancing, as the sample size is small.