This article was originally published on February 24 2022, last updated April 29, 2022
MDMA itself may not be the cause of your "Blue Mondays" after all, as it could be down to your environment instead.
A study, titled Debunking the myth of 'Blue Mondays': No evidence of affect drop after taking clinical MDMA, has found that the illicit nature and environment in which drugs are taken in often results in bad come-downs when used recreationally.
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MDMA, when taken in a clinically controlled environment, has been shown to not cause any comedowns. People have reported that their moods were elevated and there were limited negative side effects when MDMA was taken in controlled environments.
What is an MDMA comedown? According to Drugswise, a comedown is "used to describe the two or three-day after-effects from taking ecstasy."
Due to the chemical compounds found in MDMA, often users can find themselves feeling down and depressed due to how those compounds affect their brain’s natural serotonin levels.
This study debunks everything which is currently known about the use of MDMA, it finds that "comedowns might be more related to the context that individuals take recreational MDMA in rather than due to MDMA itself."
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The study tracks the moods and reactions of 14 people who were enlisted into an MDMA-assisted psychotherapy course to treat an alcohol disorder.
Researchers found no drop-off following clinical MDMA use in the 14 participants. It instead claims that several of those who took part claimed that their mood went up and reported that they felt no inclination to use recreational MDMA.
As written in their abstract, the researchers "aimed to evaluate the evidence basis for the negative side effects associated with MDMA as well as inform our understanding of the drug's post-acute effects in a clinical context with an open-label study."
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They found that comedowns that are associated with recreational MDMA were not seen in their patients.
"The results support the overall safety and tolerability of clinically administered MDMA and, importantly, suggest that the 'come downs' previously associated with the substance may be explained by confounds in research relating to the illicit sourcing of the drug and specific environmental setting for recreational consumption."
VICE spoke to Dr Ben Sessa, the co-author of the study and a research fellow at Imperial College, who clarified that the findings of their study does not necessarily correlate to those who recreationally use MDMA.
"I got some criticism of the paper on Twitter from people who misunderstood the paper; people thinking I was saying that comedowns don't exist - and multiple people posting that I was wrong to say they don’t happen because they have had them.
"But they were all missing the point. They do exist when MDMA is taken recreationally. The point I was making is that they don't exist when it is given clinically."
He then went on to clarify the difference between clinical use of using drugs to treat mental health disorders, in comparison to recreational use.
"The differences between clinical MDMA and recreational ecstasy are massive. An ecstasy tablet or a bag of crystal MDMA may contain anywhere between 0mg and 350mg of MDMA, plus any number of adulterants. In contrast, when we give MDMA clinically we use clinical-grade MDMA, which is 99.98% pure.
"People usually take recreational ecstasy at night. They stay up all night, missing out on sleep. This hugely contributes to feeling unwell and hungover the next day. The low mood effects persist for several days after missing a night’s sleep, which also causes this 'Blue Monday' effect a few days later.
"In contrast, we administer clinical MDMA at 9:AM, and the effects have worn off by the evening, at which point the patients feel back to baseline and naturally tired. They then get a good night's sleep and do not have any immediate hangover effects in the following week."
Mixmag has previously published data from Dr. Ben Sessa which shows the best dosages for people who are taking the drugs recreationally and for people who are taking the drugs under a clinical trial. Check out that article here.
To read the full findings of the study, visit it in the National Library of Medicine here.
Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter