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How does ecstasy affect the brain and what are some of its long term effects?
Ecstasy, also known by its chemical name methylenedioxymethamphetamine (or MDMA, for short), is a type of amphetamine, but it also produces effects similar to some hallucinogens. MDMA affects the brain by increasing the activity of at least three neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of brain cells): serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. MDMA causes these neurotransmitters to be released from their storage sites in neurons, resulting in increased neurotransmitter activity.

We know from studies in animals that MDMA can produce long-lasting damage to serotonin neurons. Serotonin is important in regulating mood, sleep, body temperature, pain and other critical functions. In fact, some of the medications used to treat depression directly target this system. From imaging the brains of people, we find that there are changes in this system too, but we do not know how long those changes last. People who abuse MDMA tend to get depressed or anxious and to have trouble remembering recent events. These effects can be short-lived or longer-lasting depending on how much drug is used, how often, and whether or not other drugs are also being abused (marijuana is fairly common in MDMA users). Some people who use MDMA also have other difficulties with their abilities to make decisions and with their sleeping patterns. Of course, you will likely suffer more severe problems if you use MDMA often or in large amounts.