Patients who suffer from PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have an array of treatment options to help cope or recover from experiencing an intense emotional and physical reaction. These treatment options often include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. While treatment options are readily available to patients with PTSD, many of them are looking for alternative options to help deal with their anxiety, depression or insomnia. In this blog, PTSD and its current treatment are discussed. There is also a review of the information available of whether medical marijuana can help patients who suffer from PTSD.
What Is PTSD?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2019), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined 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.
When the topic of PTSD is discussed in today’s society, military veterans are often the image portrayed in the news and social media followed by victims of a traumatic event such as a school or public shooting. However, anyone can develop PTSD at any age. People who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder often have trouble doing normal daily activities such as going to work, school or even spending time with people they care about most. Insomnia, anxiety, depression and avoidance are often common characteristics found in PTSD patients. Anger and reckless behavior can also be considered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as well.
While the symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating, there are treatment options available after a proper diagnosis has been completed by a licensed mental health provider.
How Is PTSD Treated Currently?
Patients who have been properly diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder have two main treatments to help control their emotions and behavior: psychotherapy and medications.
Psychotherapy is often referred to as “talk therapy” where a patient meets with a mental health professional during a pre-determined schedule to talk about helpful ways patients can combat the side effects of PTSD. These talks can include the usage of relaxation and anger-control skills, provide tips for better sleep, diet and exercise habits and teach about trauma and its effects (National Institute of Mental Health, 2019).
The 2nd most common option to treat posttraumatic stress disorder is through prescription medication. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2019), the most studied type of medication for treating PTSD are antidepressants, which may help control PTSD symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger and feeling numb inside. However, as with any prescription medicine, there are some side effects that some patients experience such as nausea, fatigue, drowsiness and insomnia to name a few.
Many patients are looking for alternative ways to ease some of the symptoms they experience during an episode of PTSD. One of the alternative ways is the usage of medical marijuana.
How Does Cannabis Help With PTSD?
The use of cannabis to treat PTSD is still in a research phase. However, Betthauser, Pilz, and Vollmer, (2019), have observed that “when inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.” This particular study suggest that further research is needed to understand the effects on PTSD symptoms but also concludes that some patients are reporting benefits such as reduced anxiety, insomnia and improving coping ability.
After you become an approved medical marijuana patient in the state where you live and have been properly diagnosed with PTSD, you are encouraged to speak with a patient consultant to understand dosing and consumption methods. The patient consultants at Health for Life in Mesa, Arizona as well as Baltimore, Bethesda and White Marsh, Maryland, are committed to provide you with the education and knowledge you can use to make decisions on your medicinal treatment.
Cannabis use can contribute to short-term and long-term adverse effect such as impaired memory, impaired motor ability, altered judgment and paranoia. Regular inhalation may be associated with inflammation of large airways, increase airway resistance and lung hyperinflation. There is also an increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia) in persons with a predisposition to such disorders. There is a small percentage of people who may develop a form of addiction to marijuana, particularly if consumed in large quantities daily. Marijuana should not be consumed if pregnant. For use only adults, 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children.
It is always recommended that when using cannabis, especially for a cannabis-naïve person:
START LOW, GO SLOW
American Psychiatric Association. (2019). What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd.
Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2015 Aug 1;72(15):1279-84. Use and Effects of Cannabinoids in Military Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml#part_145375