Psilocybin and MDMA for PTSD Treatment

Young distraught woman being consoled by African American woman at community center. Copy space.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that typically occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event, like a natural disaster, war, serious accident, or other physically traumatic incidents. Continue reading to learn how MDMA for PTSD treatment may be beneficial. 

Risk factors for PTSD include:

  • Other mental health diagnoses or previous trauma
  • A family history of mental health diagnoses
  • Substance abuse 
  • Lack of a quality support system
  • Ongoing stress after the traumatic event

PTSD is not to be confused with complex PTSD (CPTSD), which develops after prolonged incidents like repeated child abuse. They are incredibly similar psychiatric conditions and may respond to near-identical treatments, but the criteria for each are different.

Roughly 12 million American adults suffer from

PTSD within a given year. Like most psychiatric disorders, PTSD doesn’t have a cure. Still, patients can manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. While there may not be a cure, new (and promising) treatments and tools for PTSD are emerging all the time. 

One alternative therapy for PTSD that’s gaining more acceptance? Psychedelics. Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative legalizing psilocybin and specific psychedelic substances in the 2022 midterm elections, and Oregon passed similar legislation in the 2020 election.

Conventional PTSD Treatment

Because post-traumatic stress disorder disrupts daily life, it can be debilitating. The condition doesn’t just impact the sufferer, it impacts everyone around them. Symptoms include:

  • Intrusive memories, flashbacks, and bad dreams
  • Avoidance of reminders of the traumatic experience
  • Negative changes in mood and thinking
  • A shift in physical and emotional reactions like difficulty sleeping, feeling tense, having angry outbursts, or being easily startled 

Combining SSRIs (a type of antidepressant) with psychotherapy is the most common approach to treating PTSD. This method works for many patients, but research suggests that 33% of PTSD patients resist traditional treatment. The non-response rates for cognitive behavioral therapy might be as high as 50% and 20-40% for SSRI medications, prompting many patients to seek alternative forms of treatment. 


MDMA, more commonly known as ecstasy in recreational settings, is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. It stimulates the production of norepinephrine, dopamine, and oxytocin to promote euphoria, prosocial behavior, and well-being. Users and some experts also describe it as an entactogen, which increases empathy and self-awareness.

For those suffering from PTSD, research shows that clinically-administered MDMA might be a viable treatment option. MDMA appears to reduce anxiety in PTSD patients when recalling traumatic events. One study had 67% of its participants report they no longer met the criteria for PTSD a year after finishing MDMA-assisted therapy. 

Accessing clinical MDMA is challenging because the U.S. government currently classifies MDMA as a controlled substance. It is being studied, though, so you may be able to sign up for clinical trials. Seeking MDMA from untested sources, like buying it off the street, is not recommended, as other deadly substances like fentanyl or opioids could be present. 

Psilocybin for PTSD

Have you heard the term magic mushroom? Psilocybin is the chemical in these mushrooms that causes people to hallucinate. Like MDMA, psilocybin is a popular recreational drug. Still, emerging research shows there might be a therapeutic benefit to psilocybin for PTSD. One study found mice more effectively overcame fear conditioning compared to placebo participants. 

Animal studies concluded psilocybin might reduce PTSD symptoms by stimulating the growth and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for emotion and memory. The growth of new brain cells is known as neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is a crucial part of keeping mood disorders like PTSD under control. 

The benefits of psilocybin on psychiatric conditions are why scientists continue to explore the drug and why states like Colorado are legalizing it. 

Find a Doctor

Psychedelic therapy is a complex and emerging practice, and PTSD patients should not explore it without the guidance of a medical practitioner. Some physicians are uncomfortable utilizing MDMA or psilocybin therapy for PTSD, especially with a cloudy legal status.

Heally partners with doctors who understand alternative treatments for PTSD, like psychedelic-assisted therapy. We take a whole-body approach to healthcare by addressing the mind, body, and spirit. Our care involves different tools and techniques, like psychedelic therapy or homeopathy. 

Speak to a doctor about PTSD treatment today!   


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