Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life.
In an effort to help traumatized American soldiers the Guardian reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has given the green light for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.
Michael Mithoefer, the psychiatrist leading the trial, said: "It's looking very promising. It's too early to draw any conclusions but in these treatment-resistant people so far the results are encouraging. "People are able to connect more deeply on an emotional level with the fact they are safe now."
According to the National Center for PSTD up to 30% of combat veterans suffer from the condition at some point in their lives. If these trials prove to be effective for veterans, it would be wise to open up this effective emoticeutical tool to the broader global public quickly.
Update: 1/3 of active and retired police in the US suffer from PSTD. For more info please see tearsofacop