Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Medical Marijuana
What is PTSD?
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that sometimes develops after a person is exposed to an event such as an assault, accident, combat, or natural disaster, that results in psychological trauma.
Nearly eight million Americans are affected by PTSD. Women are more likely to suffer from PTSD than men. About 10 percent of women develop PTSD at some point during their lives, while it affects only about 4 percent of men. Military veterans are particularly susceptible to PTSD.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma in recurring thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Sleep problems
- Irritability, depression, anger, and aggressive behavior
- Poor concentration
- Fear and avoidance of places, people, and experiences associated with the traumatic event
It is normal to experience some of these symptoms immediately after a traumatic event. Symptoms that persist for more than a few weeks, or resurface months or years later, are a sign of PTSD.
What is the treatment for PTSD?
PTSD is treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. However, the antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs prescribed for PTSD do not address all the symptoms, and can have unpleasant side effects that discourage people from taking them. A significant number of PTSD sufferers do not respond well to either therapy or medication.
How does medical marijuana help PTSD?
Studies have shown that medical marijuana can help treat PTSD symptoms even in treatment-resistant cases. Medical marijuana helps alleviate sleep disruption and anxiety, stabilize mood swings, calm aggression and anxiety, and improves the quality of life for PTSD sufferers and their families.
Scientific research suggests that the brain’s endocannabinoid system plays a role in memory extinction, the normal, healthy process of separating negative associations from stimuli.
Much of the information on the use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD is anecdotal. However, in 2017 the FDA approved a study on the effects of medical marijuana on veterans with PTSD.
The Veteran’s Administration has gathered data demonstrating that veterans with PTSD who use recreational marijuana are likely to develop substance abuse problems. Also, THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can increase anxiety and induce psychosis in some people. For these reasons, it is important that medical marijuana is administered to PTSD sufferers under the guidance of a qualified physician.