Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size

    Depression as Kid Tied to Ecstasy Use

    Anxiety, Depression in Childhood May Lead to Early Ecstasy Use

    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Feb. 24, 2006 - Children who suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression may be more likely to use illicit drugs like ecstasy later in adolescence and early adulthood, a new study suggests.

    Although mental health problems like anxiety disorders and depression have been linked to ecstasy use, researchers say it's not clear which comes first -- whether depression and anxiety lead to ecstasy use or ecstasy use leads to depression and anxiety.

    But this study suggests that children with symptoms of anxiety or depression may be susceptible to using ecstasy in an attempt to relieve their symptoms.

    In this study, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers looked at whether the use of ecstasy was preceded by mental health problems in a group of nearly 1,600 people in the Netherlands who were tracked from childhood into early adulthood.

    Tracking Ecstasy Use

    Researchers surveyed the mental health of the participants in 1983, before ecstasy emerged as a popular recreational drug in the Netherlands, and then looked at use of the drug among the study participants in a survey conducted 14 years later. The average age of participants was about 10 years old at the start of the study and 24.5 years old at the end of the study in 1997.

    Overall, about 5% of the men and women reported using ecstasy at least five times by the time they were asked in the 1997 survey.

    The results showed that children with symptoms of anxiety and depression were more than twice as likely as others to have used ecstasy later in life.

    Researchers say ecstasy's effects are supposed to include enhanced feelings of bonding with other people, euphoria, and relaxation, and people with anxiety or depression may be particularly susceptible to these purported effects and attempt to use ecstasy to relieve their symptoms.

    But they say long-term use of mood-altering substances like ecstasy may increase symptoms of depression and lead to further problems.

    Researchers say additional studies are needed to further explain the link between mental health problems and the use of ecstasy.

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
    mother and daughter talking
    child brushing his teeth
    Sipping hot tea
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    hand holding a cell phone
    rl with friends
    girl being bullied
    Child with adhd