Cure For the Winter Blues

By now the Christmas break is well and truly over and excessive eating and spending have been replaced with belt-tightening resolutions and sullen nights on the sofa digesting the winter electricity bill. It’s the annual hangover where the nation rescinds back into their homes to hibernate and wait until their wallets are plump again in spring. However aside from all that cabin fever many people tend to suffer from January Blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a state of depression caused by a lack of serotonin from sunlight. Some people use phototherapy to enhance the amount of light in their day and others use herbal remedies or vitamin replacements, this year an alternative therapy has now been suggested by Dr.Feelgood of California; two ecstasy tablets and a night on the town.

MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy has been re-introduced to our streets and in our clubs after some clever Dutch fellows learned to re-synthesise the precursor chemical that was previously banned and seized in Cambodia in 2009. Since ecstasy was first synthesised back in the 60’s research has focused on its beneficial effects on treating patients with trauma and depression, as well as relationship counselling. This was short-lived until as chemical testing of the drug was banned in 1985. In July last year in the Journal of Psychopharmacology the first controlled experiments were conducted on post traumatic stress disorder with patients that showed resistance to standard treatment. The results were undeniable that ecstasy is safe and effective in treating patients.

Since David Nutt declared ecstasy use was ‘no more dangerous than horse riding’ there has seen a massive cultural shift in how the public view the drug. This has had no effect on the governments standpoint as they publicly disgraced Nutt and showed the public they’re not interested in the research of their own senior drug administrators. However the research is mounting that ecstasy is safe and fun to use, sensibly. Dr. Feelgood prescribes taking ecstasy with friends, possibly on the weekends to stave off those awful January blues.

Ecstasy works by increasing the amount of serotonin and oxytocin in the synapses which are both ‘feel-good’ chemicals. The result is a massive sense of euphoria and ‘connectedness’ to the people around you. Oxytocin is specifically produced to aid human bonding which is why it has been particularly useful in relationship counselling. The effect has been described as ‘post-orgasmic bliss’, a state of mind not commonly related to spousal aggression.

In few cases ecstasy use has led to death, though little of these cases have been the result purely of ecstasy use. Some of the side-effects of ecstasy use are increased body temperature and water retention. When ecstasy is used in clubs where users are dancing all night it is possible for users to overheat, as well as hyponatremia from dangerous levels of water in the blood. This in turn can cause seizures due to the brain swelling, applying pressure on the spinal column and in some cases causing death.

So Dr. Feelgood recommends caution if you decide to take ecstasy as a remedy to a boring winter and nevermind those pesky midweek blues, also known as ‘Teary Tuesday’ and ‘Weepy Wednesday’. This is due to the fact MDMA blocks serotonin reuptake in the synapses eventually causing the synapse to need more serotonin to cause the same effect; causing a ‘low’ in serotonin while the brain recovers. Dr. Feelgood recommends in such cases to take 5htp tablets sold in your local health food shop as it’s the precursor for serotonin and will give your brain the amino acids for it to re-synthesise  more serotonin.