According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), almost 8 million people in the U.S. have PTSD, and many use marijuana to ease their PTSD symptoms. Department of Veterans Affairs U.S. report stated that nearly 2 out of 10 people with PTSD use marijuana. But is marijuana and PTSD a safe combination? Can marijuana ease or intricate the symptoms? Is treating PTSD with marijuana good, instead of prescription drugs, such as antidepressants? Let’s find out.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of disorder triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. People with PTSD may have nightmares, flashbacks to the event, intense mood swings, anxiety, depression, easily startled, suicidal thoughts, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. PTSD can significantly impair a person’s ability to function at work, at home, and socially.
What is PTSD?
The reason behind PTSD could be a traumatic event such as
- Physical or sexual assault
- Natural or human-caused disasters
- Childhood or domestic abuse
- Childbirth experiences, such as losing a baby
- The death of someone close to you
- War and conflict
- There may also be a genetic factor involved in PTSD.
About one-half of all U.S. adults experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, but most do not develop PTSD. People who have had depression or anxiety in the past or who do not receive much emotional support from friends or family may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event.
Although marijuana is considered a potential mental health treatment to ease anxiety or depression in some people with PTSD, the drug may enhance some symptoms associated with PTSD.
Can Marijuana Help with PTSD?
Marijuana is a natural treatment from the hemp plant, whose scientific name is Cannabis sativa. Cannabis and marijuana are used to ease PTSD symptoms. A study indicates that cannabinoids, a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, might help to deal with the traumatic memories associated with PTSD.
Marijuana is the dried leaves or buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It consists of mind-altering compounds, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other active compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which are not mind-altering.
While some believe marijuana can help treat their PTSD, the second phase of this treatment could lead to tolerance, chemical dependence, and addiction.
Negative Effects while Treating PTSD with Marijuana
A Washington State University study found that people who use marijuana to deal with their PTSD reported that cannabis reduced their symptoms by more than half in the short term.
The effect of marijuana helps people fall asleep, thereby reducing sleep problems. However, long-term use of marijuana can cause long-term sleep trouble for those with PTSD.
Marijuana can temporarily help deal with PTSD symptoms, but the root problem remains. The use of marijuana can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleeping difficulty, or couple more symptoms, but it can not treat your PTSD.
However, once the effects of marijuana end or you stop taking it, the symptoms may come back, and this time it will be more intense. Regular marijuana use for PTSD can also lead to misusing other substances, and a person under the influence of marijuana may struggle to complete everyday tasks.
Why Marijuana Temporary Treat PTSD
Due to the legalization of medical marijuana, people have access to products that contain cannabis and THC. Many people start self-medicate through marijuana for their PTSD.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 30% of people who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana addiction. Regular users of marijuana may feel irritable and experience sleep difficulties, poor appetite, marijuana cravings, restlessness, and other physical discomforts after ending use.
Should PTSD Be Treated with Marijuana or Cannabis?
Marijuana has shown positive results for many ailments, from easing stress and tension to pain relief. Cannabis helps people get a peaceful night, can help prevent night-terrors associated with PTSD, and prevents some people from having violent outbursts. It can also improve mood and lessen nightmares.
Still, it is better to consult with your physician or My MMJ Doctor as the benefits of marijuana are impressive. But it temporarily solves your PTSD. Once you stop consuming it, the symptoms will come back. Moreover, marijuana has a high level of THC which can cause a person to develop a dependency on the substance. Somehow marijuana is an effective way to treat PTSD, but it’s not a sustainable way.
What does Science say About Medical Marijuana for PTSD?
Researchers led by Christine Rabinak, Associate Professor, Wayne State University, are working on a study focusing on how cannabinoids affect patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The current research is promising for marijuana users who are PTSD sufferers.
In 2020 Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research performed a study on 150 PTSD patients to compare PTSD who use cannabis versus patients who did not use it. Though this study did not set up any regulations, it showed that patients using cannabis experienced a more significant decrease in PTSD symptoms. But more research is needed to hold the end node of whether cannabis is good for treating PTSD.