When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, there’s currently no quick fix. Sufferers often experience a number of frightening symptoms for extended periods of time while hiding their struggle from friends and loved ones. In severe cases, these individuals become high risk for dangers such as drug abuse, alcoholism, and even suicide, making PTSD one of the most dangerous mental illnesses an individual can experience.
There is hope. New research suggests medical marijuana may be one of the most helpful and effective treatments for helping patients with PTSD. As the stigma surrounding this treatment begins to disappear, more and more PTSD sufferers are seeking medical marijuana.
When a traumatic experience occurs, the body has two natural stress responses: fight or flight. This response is what helps people make fast decisions in potentially life-threatening situations. Due to a traumatic event, people may develop PTSD�”an anxiety condition that can last months or years after the triggering event.
After the initial triggering experience, many PTSD sufferers will experience symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, anger, poor concentration, blackouts, or new phobias of people, sounds, or places that remind them of the trauma. For example, a war veteran who experiences PTSD may have flashbacks triggered due to fireworks that sound like gunshots. A sexual assault victim may develop a fear of people who look similar to their abuser.
Regardless of the triggering event, sufferers feel they are under a constant threat or risk, even when there isn’t any obvious danger. Symptoms often develop shortly after the trigger, but in some cases, PTSD doesn’t become apparent until months or even years later. The way each person experiences the illness is entirely different.
Before understanding why people are turning to medical marijuana for help, it’s important to understand the symptoms they’re battling in the first place. Some of the most common PTSD symptoms include:
- Flashbacks or intrusive memories (This includes unwelcomed flashbacks of the event, recurring dreams or nightmares, or uncontrollable thoughts about the trigger.)
- Avoidance (Sufferers will often do whatever it takes to avoid locations, people, or thoughts that are directly connected to the trauma or anything that will trigger memories of the event.)
- Mood swings or thought changes (PTSD often changes the way people think and experience the world, including sudden mood swings, negative self-esteem, loss of interest in activities, or disassociation with surroundings.)
- Physical reactions (This includes trouble focusing, startling easy, self-destructive behaviours, and aggressive outbursts.)
If there’s one thing that’s clear, PTSD has a negative impact on almost every aspect of a person’s life, from how they sleep at night to how they manage to get through the day.
How Medical Marijuana May Improve PTSD Symptoms
Since cognitive therapy and anxiety medications don’t always work, many PTSD sufferers have begun using medical marijuana in an attempt to help alleviate their symptoms and manage their condition.
When PTSD sufferers are able to regain control, experience less fear, and get better sleep, they are better equipped to manage their symptoms, which is how medical marijuana may potentially help them.
Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body and the brain, meaning both the physical and mental symptoms of PTSD can be altered with medical marijuana. When these receptors are activated, they may help lower anxiety and suppress the feelings of fear or panic�”allowing PTSD sufferings to continue working, socializing with friends, and getting better sleep at night. Additionally, because their symptoms are under control, sufferers may be at lower risk of engaging in dangerous activities in an effort to control their symptoms.
Overall, medical cannabis is a natural and a potential alternative for sufferers of PTSD. No one deserves to suffer alone in silence�”talk to your doctor and consider alternative treatment options.