Today is a day dedicated to creating awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and treatment options available for those in need. In Pennsylvania, PTSD is a condition that has been approved for treatment with medical marijuana.
What is PTSD
As the name suggests, individuals may develop PTSD following a traumatic event, often involving (but certainly not limited to) death, threatened death, serious injury, and sexual violation. There is still no specific cause for it to develop, though some high risk factors include continued exposure to stressful experiences, a history of mental illness, substance abuse, and hormone regulation.
People with PTSD can experience a wide array of symptoms that range from manageable (though often unpleasant) to severe. Common symptoms include flashbacks to the triggering event(s), nightmares, extreme anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Other symptoms include intrusive memories, negative changes in mood (i.e. feelings of hopelessness, memory problems, difficulties experiencing positive emotions, numbness), as well as being more easily frightened or quicker to anger. Unfortunately, in the most severe cases, PTSD can also cause suicidal thoughts or lead to suicide.
There are a number of treatment options available for those with PTSD, ranging from therapies to medications. Medical marijuana can also be a potential treatment option for patients to be able to feel comfortable and enjoy their lives again.
How Can Marijuana Help?
Currently, research on the brains of those with PTSD leads researchers to believe that those with PTSD have less activity in their endocannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids found in cannabis directly interact with the endocannabinoid system and are thought to help encourage endocannabinoid activity.
Cannabis can also have a direct effect on some of the symptoms associated with PTSD, ranging from nightmares to chronic anxiety. CBD products, which do not have psychoactive effects, may also be of interest to those with PTSD, as CBD is thought to reduce stress, lessen anxiety, & increase mood.
PTSD and medical marijuana has gained the focus of research groups in recent years as more studies begin to explore this connection. In 2014, a research study conducted on medical marijuana patients in New Mexico with PTSD found that 75% reported symptom improvement. Research continues in this emerging field, as the FDA has even begun to release occasional grants to study the effects of medical marijuana on PTSD.
There are a number of different products and strains that can be helpful to those with PTSD, and what works will vary between patients and the symptoms they are looking to treat. While medical marijuana can be a great treatment option, it is important for patients with PTSD to build a strong support network and choose whichever treatment plan they believe will have them finding relief!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed for accuracy by the FDA. As always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when considering trying a new treatment. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor first.