PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
What is PTSD?
The American Psychiatric Association defines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “as a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” Those suffering from PTSD have recurring memories of the stressful event and feel anxious or scared, even in the absence of danger, for months or even years. Flashbacks or nightmares are common, as well as sadness, fear, or anger and feelings of detachment.
How can Medical Marijuana Help?
The use of medical marijuana to combat the life-altering side effects of PTSD has been common for decades, with recent research now supporting its many benefits. A 2013 study published in Molecular Psychiatry that “plant-derived cannabinoids [psychoactive chemicals] such as marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.” In addition, a 2009 clinical trial showed that consuming THC before sleep reduced the frequency and intensity of nightmares in 72 percent of the patients studied.
Peter Greenspoon, a primary care physician and contributing editor for the Harvard Health Blog, writes, “A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study.” Encouraging research published in Science Daily found that patients taking medical marijuana for PTSD reported a decrease in re-experiencing the trauma, avoiding situations that reminded them of the trauma, and hyperarousal.
Anecdotally, many who treat their PTSD using marijuana say that, unlike conventional pharmaceuticals, medical marijuana lets them safely process their trauma. Dianna Donnelly, a counselor and patient at the Canadian Cannabis Clinics, told the Trauma and Mental Health Report:
“One veteran, a friend of mine, who recently started using marijuana instead of prescription medication for PTSD, said that with the cannabis, he can feel his emotions, and experience them properly and safely. Before, he just felt numb.”
The information provided should not be used as a substitution for physician knowledge. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment with medicinal marijuana.