Why MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common and debilitating condition that affects approximately 1 in 14 Americans at any given time. It is characterized by intense and constant fear of not being accepted by others and a sense of perpetual anxiety and self-doubt. Many people with SAD never seek treatment, and even those who do often do not receive evidence-based therapies that can result in full recovery. In an effort to address this gap in treatment options, researchers at Portland Psychotherapy are currently conducting a clinical trial of MDMA-assisted therapy (MDMA-AT) for SAD. Previous research has shown that MDMA may be effective in treating social anxiety in individuals with autism, and another study has examined the use of the psychedelic substance Ayahuasca in treating social anxiety.

MDMA is thought to work by releasing social neurohormones such as oxytocin, prolactin, and vasopressin, which are involved in social bonding and feelings of safety around others. This may help individuals with SAD feel safe enough to be their authentic selves and engage more genuinely with their therapists, a crucial element of effective therapy. MDMA may also help individuals with SAD build new associations between authenticity and safety, rather than fear and shame.

The drug can also help people with SAD build new associations between authenticity and safety, rather than fear and shame. In the clinical trial, researchers will be examining the effectiveness of MDMA-AT for SAD in a larger group of people, with a focus on the long-term effects and mechanisms of the treatment. It is hoped that this research will help fill the gap in treatment options for SAD and provide a new, more effective option for those suffering from the disorder.

If you or a loved one is suffering from debilitating social anxiety and found that other treatments have helped, feel free to contact us about potentially enrolling in the clinical trial, which is in Portland, Oregon.

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Author: Jason Luoma, Ph.D.

Jason is a psychologist and scientist who studies ways to help people with shame, stigma, and social anxiety, including using psychedelic and MDMA-assisted therapy

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