First responders have some of the most important but difficult jobs. They’re constantly putting their own lives at risk for the sake of helping others�”something that, unfortunately, comes with consequences. A 2017 Canadian study found over 44 percent of first responders screened positive for symptom clusters consistent with one or more mental disorders. For perspective, the rate for the general population is only 10 percent.
Due to the high-stress environment these men and women work in, many face serious risks, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These conditions can then lead to other dangers, such as drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.
While there isn’t currently a specialized medication for treating PTSD, medical cannabis may be a possible solution to help first responders cope with the stressors of their high-risk roles in the community.
First Responders and PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious anxiety condition caused by disturbing or traumatic experiences, such as military combat, sexual assault, or life-threatening incidents. The persistence of PTSD is a result of changes in brain chemistry that occur at the time of trauma when adrenaline and stress hormones are at an all-time high. The symptoms often involve flashbacks, social isolation, and insomnia�”symptoms that, over time, become increasingly debilitating and dangerous for the sufferer.
Because the job of a first responder involves a number of potentially disturbing and stressful situations, these men and women are at serious riskfor PTSD and other mental illnesses. If left undiagnosed, they will often turn to more dangerous coping mechanisms out of a need to escape. As more and more first responders are diagnosed with mental health conditions, better protection and treatment is an absolute must. One possible option for helping these individuals is medical cannabis.
Medical Cannabis for PTSD
Studies show medical cannabis may be able to help treat a number of medical conditions, including PTSD. Even if you aren’t suffering from PTSD, it can still effectively treat other illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
When it comes to attempting to treat PTSD with medical cannabis, it’s important to understand the two compounds that are often in question: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is a cannabinoid that does not cause the psychoactive “high” that’s often associated with cannabis, while THC is the primary psychoactive.
Because PTSD is about learned fear, it’s important to note that CBD may be able to reduce this fear response and allow sufferers to relax by easing nightmares and reducing flashbacks. This is why many sufferers opt for a CBD strain to attempt to reduce symptoms during the day. Interestingly, however, many patients who experience frightening night terrors claim to find THC-heavy strains improve their sleep patterns, allowing them to get a good night’s sleep and function better the next day. Without flashbacks, night terrors, and fear, first responders may be able to better handle their emotions and become more in control of their feelings and responses to stress. This is ideal for treating PTSD.
Because everyone’s body is different, it’s important to work with a medical practitioner to find the right strain to work with your body’s chemistry.
If you’re in a high-risk job, it’s important to take care of yourself just as much as it’s important to take care of others. Medical cannabis might be able to help.