The journey to find better methods of mental health treatment is one that has made significant progress over the past half century, especially the last 10 years. Today, people in Western countries are more understanding and open than ever before to talking about and seeking proper treatment for their own psychological well being. The tools and techniques that are available to mental healthcare professionals today are the result of years and years of research and study, and they will continue to develop in the future.
SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one area of mental health treatment that has seen a marked increase in public concern. PTSD, a condition that is commonly associated with combat veterans, is a complicated set of interconnected psychological and physical issues that stem from trauma. Essentially, when people go through traumatic experiences the body’s natural stress response mechanisms can become rewired in a negative way. This can cause a whole host of issues such as general anxiety, sleeplessness, changes in impulse control, persistent anger, and many other problems that are commonly associated with PTSD. While health care providers choose to treat this condition with a combination of antidepressant medication and therapy, there is significant evidence that medicinal cannabis can be used to great effect.
TREATING PTSD WITH CANNABIS
A 2018 study published in The Mental Health Clinician looked at the potential utility of cannabis as a treatment for PTSD. Three of the five studies performed showed that cannabis could provide benefits to patients, with the overall conclusion of the research indicating a need for more data. Aside from the obvious benefit that cannabis does not offer the same dangers as narcotic drugs, there is a scientific explanation for why it is a useful PTSD treatment.
ENDOCANNABINOIDS AND PTSD
The body’s natural endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in regulating our stress response, a process that is not functioning properly in PTSD patients. Endocannabinoids are also vital to memory formation and recollection. A 2013 study at NYU Langone Medical Center found that patients suffering from PTSD have lower levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide. This is a chemical that is vital to forming and recalling memories. Through using medicinal cannabis, patients may achieve relief of their systems through introducing exogenous cannabinoids. This may offer health benefits by modulating the stressors and triggers that PTSD patients struggle to cope with. In addition to this chemical connection, cannabis is also useful in combating many of the comorbid PTSD symptoms such as sleep disorders, digestive stress and physical anxiety.
TALKING TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL ABOUT CANNABIS FOR PTSD
As with so many mental health conditions, there is no perfect cure for PTSD. But as the medical community moves towards a more enlightened future, new treatments and techniques will become available. If you are considering using cannabis as a treatment option, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about a potential plan. If you determine that medicinal cannabis is something you would like to try, then you can begin to discuss the specifics of dosage and what results you would like to see.