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Researchers Dismiss Ecstasy Depression Claims

Author: Jonty Adderley
Saturday, March 22, 2003
Drug experts have dismissed the conclusions a new study into ecstasy use which suggested that using just one ecstasy pill can cause serious depression.

The new study carried out by psychologists from London Metropolitan University suggested ecstasy users had depression levels four times higher than other drug users. However, Dr Jon Cole from Liverpool University disputed the study's conclusions.

"Depression among ecstasy users is not unique, it is the same with people who abuse alcohol," he told the Indepedent.

"All the evidence so far points to the fact that these side effects maybe down to other factors."

Neil Hunt from the University of Kent's Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences was similarly disappointed with the study and wrote a detailed rebuttal in a letter to this week's Observer.

"Whether it is due to carelessness of some other explanation, last week's ecstasy research seems to have completely ignored a major longitudinal study that has crucial relevance," he said.

"Published last year, Lieb and colleagues followed 2462 young people over 4 years and found that those who started using ecstasy were much more likely to have mental disorders beforehand."

"We can't conclude that ecstasy causes depression," he added.

"The most plausible explanation at present is that people who are depressed may take ecstasy to make themselves feel better."

Another possible explanation for ecstasy users' depression appeared in many of the same newspapers last weekend, linking the disease to today's celebrity culture. According to a study of four hundred 9 to 12 year old Australian children, those most likely to suffer clinical depression were individuals obsessed with material goals and fame.

"Depressed children were more likely to believe that happiness was something achieved through the acquisition of money, fame and beauty," the Independent reported.

"These children wanted to be rich and famous above all else in life."