STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who use medical marijuana report that treatment alleviates anxiety, helps establish regular sleep patterns, and stabilizes mood swings.
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WHAT IS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that patients may develop after seeing or experiencing something distressing, such as an assault, combat, accident, or natural disaster. The brain’s normal fight-or-flight response becomes altered and the patient continues to feel stressed and anxious long after the event.
According to the National Center for PTSD, about seven to eight percent of the population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Approximately eight million adults have PTSD during any given year.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER SYMPTOMS
The course of PTSD varies. Symptoms typically begin within three months of the traumatic incident, but can sometimes start years later. Symptoms must last more than one month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, patients must demonstrate the following for at least one month to receive a PTSD diagnosis:
At least one re-experiencing symptom
At least one avoidance symptom
At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Re-experiencing symptoms include:
Flashbacks (re-living the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating)
Avoidance symptoms include:
Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience
Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:
Being easily startled
Feeling tense or “on edge”
Having angry outbursts
Having difficulty sleeping
Cognition and mood symptoms include:
Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
HOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA HELPS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER PATIENTS
Multiple studies and countless PTSD patient testimonials champion medical marijuana’s ability to soothe anxiety, calm aggression, alleviate sleep disorders, and stabilize mood swings.
Several studies speak to the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) – a nonpsychoactive marijuana compound – and its ability to counteract anxiety. As New York University psychiatrist and researcher Esther Blessing summarizes:
“I think there’s good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety…”
According to psychiatrist Sue Sisley:
“I think the most intriguing thing is that a single plant can provide monotherapy for this whole constellation of [PTSD] symptoms.”
Research suggests PTSD patients may be deficient in anadamine, an endogenous cannabinoid compound. This deficiency could skew performance of cannabinoid receptor CB-1, which is charged with deactivating traumatic memories and helping us to forget.
Scientists claim CBD delays the re-uptake of anadamine and its inhibition by certain enzymes. Surprisingly, that’s not all.
A 2016 Frontiers in Pharmacology study found that CBD may also reduce learned fear – a condition that triggers the fight or flight response at inappropriate times – by decreasing fear expression, disrupting memory reconsolidation, and enhancing extinction (the process by which exposure therapy inhibits learned fear).