Have you ever experienced a traumatic event? It’s likely you or someone you love has. Statistics show that 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one dangerous, frightening, or shocking event that produces lasting, damaging effects. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious mental health condition related to trauma, is more common than some may think, plaguing people all over the world. In fact, Canada has some of the highest rates of PTSD sufferers, with approximately 9.4 percent of the population being affected by some form of the condition.
PTSD can be difficult to treat, and symptoms include insomnia, nightmares, triggering flashbacks, anxiety, panic attacks, and more. Like other mental illnesses, PTSD treatment options usually include some combination of therapy with heavy-duty drugs such as anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and sedatives. However, not everyone wants to go down this route. But what’s the alternative?
If you or someone you love wants to get their life back after suffering from PTSD, medical cannabis might be able to help. Here’s how.
Alleviate Insomnia and Nightmares
Sleep issues plague many people suffering from PTSD. Insomnia and nightmares lead to exhaustion and sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to elevated levels of stress and anxiety, exacerbating PSTD symptoms even further. It’s a vicious cycle.
Many patients report medical cannabis helps treat insomnia and may even suppress dreams. Used correctly, cannabis’ main cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), may not only be relaxing and sedative-like but may also affect dream-making REM sleep�”the type of sleep where nightmares occur. In fact, a clinical study shows that 73 percent of PTSD sufferers claimed they experienced a significant reduction or a ceasing of nightmares altogether when given a synthetic cannabinoid.
Calmer and More Receptive to Therapy
Treating PTSD often requires a multipronged approach that includes therapy and counselling. However, it can be difficult for therapy to be truly effective for a patient who is experiencing severe psychological symptoms such as disassociation, involuntary flashbacks, and high levels of anxiety.
While psychiatric medications are often prescribed to suppress these symptoms, medical cannabis is a more natural alternative. It may help calm patients, help them cope with anxiety and stress, and inspire an overall sense of well-being, which might make them more receptive to therapy.
The Missing “Bliss Molecule”
What is the “bliss molecule”? It’s something called anandamide, an endocannabinoid that occurs in our bodies naturally, helping us experience pleasure and happiness. Fascinatingly, endocannabinoids like anandamide have a similar structure to the THC found in cannabis. A burst of anandamide is released when we exercise, for example, causing that euphoric “runner’s high” feeling.
However, studies suggest that patients suffering from PTSD have lower levels of anandamide in their systems. Correcting this deficiency with medical cannabis may have incredible results, potentially regulating moods and allowing patients with PTSD to experience bliss, joy, and hope again.
There is no catch-all when it comes to medication, and there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all for treatment options. Each person is different with individual needs�”especially when it comes to mental health. A person’s brain chemistry is unique, the trauma experienced varies, and so do the subsequent effects of PTSD.
When it comes to medical cannabis, there are several different strains and dosages, which means a higher chance of finding a custom-tailored fit that is just right for you. Partnering with a healthcare practitioner to find a customized, easily adjustable solution for you is the first step toward a potentially successful treatment of PTSD with medical cannabis.