Can Medical Marijuana Treat Symptoms of PTSD

May 24, 2020

Negative events happen on a daily basis; however, there are some events that leave an indelible mark on the mind. Some severely negative and frightening events can cause what is called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The traditional response of a psychiatrist is to recommend anti-depressants and other medications. Some researchers and doctors have noted that these do not bring great relief to PTSD symptoms.


As a result of the shortcomings of traditional treatments for PTSD, it must be time to explore other options. Could medical marijuana be the answer? This article will evaluate PTSD, look at the symptoms related to it and take a look into some of the available research on the role that medical marijuana can play in treating PTSD.


What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health disorder that results from experiencing or witnessing deeply traumatic events. Traumatic events include natural disasters, major accidents, terrorist activities, war, sexual abuse, or any serious personal harm. There are a number of other names for Posttraumatic stress disorder. Some of the nicknames are shell shock and combat fatigue. These names were generated from the contact of war. While those common nicknames come from the battlefield, PTSD is not just confined to combat veterans. This mental health disorder can exist in anybody. PTSD does not discriminate by race, citizenship, or age. Post-traumatic stress disorder, on average, is experienced by 3.5% of adults in the United States. It has been projected that almost 10% of all people will experience PTSD. Research also shows that women are more likely to have PTSD than males. Individuals with this mental condition experience extreme and troubling thoughts and feelings based on the traumatic event that triggered PTSD. PTSD patients frequently relive their traumatic experiences via flashbacks or disturbing dreams. Individuals with PTSD may also experience fear, sadness, and anger. Patients with PTSD also report that they feel detached from people with whom they previously had thriving relationships. Certain sounds and volumes may be intolerable to persons with PTSD. Another common experience is the avoidance of people or things that remind them of the traumatic event.


The Symptoms of PTSD

How do you know if you or someone you know have PTSD? There are common signs of posttraumatic stress disorder. Some of these are:

  • Involuntary, random, or easily triggered recurrence of intrusive troubling memories of terrible experiences in the past. In children, you may observe a frequent expression of traumatic experiences throughout their play.
  • A notable frequency of distressing nightmares that feature the traumatic events or events very similar to major traumatic experiences. Children may show signs of having frightful dreams but may not understand the content.
  • Frequent flashbacks or other reactions that may cause the PTSD patient to respond as if the traumatic event was again happening to them. Children with PTSD may play out actions related to the traumatic event during playtime.
  • Deep psychological distress by the slightest exposure to cues that remind the individual of the traumatic experience that triggered their PTSD.
  • Individuals with PTSD may experience depression and suicidal thoughts.


Medical Marijuana and PTSD

A recent study done in Canada gives some great insight into the impact of medical marijuana on Post-traumatic stress disorder. This study shows that medical marijuana can help in relieving some symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms include depression and suicidal thoughts.


Researchers at the British Columbia Centre of Substance Use (BCCSU) and the University of British Columbia conducted research on 24,000 Canadians. This large group consisted of individuals with PTSD who use medical marijuana and those who do not. The researchers discovered that those who did not medicate with medical marijuana were far more likely to experience chronic depression and suicidal thoughts than those who used medical marijuana.


These researches came to the conclusion that cannabis may very well contribute to the reduction of severe depression and suicidal thoughts among PTSD patients. Stephanie Lake, a member of the team at BCCSU who were involved in this study reported that while the options for treating PTSD are few, they have found great hope and potential in the use of medical marijuana in treating the symptoms of PTSD.


Another study done by NYU Langone Medical Center discovered that individuals with PTSD are plagued by notably lower levels of anandamide than normal. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that serves as the body’s main source of endocannabinoids. This is the body’s natural supply of cannabinoids. The impact of medical cannabis on the human system is very similar to that produced by anandamide. They both stimulate the endocannabinoid system which manages mood, feelings of happiness, fear, and anxiety.

Anandamides are the natural version of antidepressants. These can also impact memory retention if not regulated properly. In the body, Cannabinoid receptors work to stop traumatic memories to enable individuals to live life without focusing on what they have experienced. Therefore, if one has a limited supply of anandamides, they will inevitably experience PTSD symptoms like anxiety and fear.


Dr. Alexander Neumeister, a prominent psychiatrist shared that there exists agreement among clinicians that the traditional treatments for PTSD have failed. Dr. Neumeister stated categorically that people suffering from PTSD who use marijuana experience more relief from the negative symptoms than they gain from the use of antidepressants and other psychiatrist recommended medications.


With all the above being said, it is undeniable that medical marijuana is not a useful treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. If you are experiencing PTSD, you may visit a medical marijuana doctor in Florida, or any of the other states that have authorized medical marijuana doctors to prescribe medical marijuana.