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PTSD Comes in Many Forms: Here’s How Cannabis Can Help

June is PTSD Awareness Month, so we at DocMJ would like to discuss the forms of PTSD, the science behind the disorder, and what we can do to help those who suffer from it. For many people, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder makes it difficult to interact with others and fulfill their daily needs. In order to increase their quality of life, patients with PTSD may turn to therapy, pharmaceuticals, or even medical marijuana, but how helpful can marijuana really be? If you suffer from PTSD and have any questions about medical marijuana or want to find a certified Ohio medical marijuana doctor near you, DocMJ can help! Our website offers an easy, online booking tool as well as an eligibility survey that can let you know instantly if you pre-qualify for a recommendation. 

The Forms of PTSD

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder and describes a mental disorder with a very wide variety of symptoms. PTSD develops after a person is exposed to a traumatic event. The traumatic event can vary depending on the person and the development of symptoms of PTSD may not develop for some time after witnessing the event. Examples of symptoms include intrusive thoughts or memories about the event, difficulty making or maintaining relationships, depression, trouble sleeping, self-destructive behavior, and feelings of shame. These symptoms are grouped into four main types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. 

There are also several forms of PTSD that people can develop. The first form is known as dissociative PTSD. Dissociative PTSD is characterized by dissociative symptoms, such as intense depersonalization. Comorbid PTSD occurs when the individual is experiencing PTSD as well as another condition such as panic disorder or major depressive disorder. Another form of PTSD is complex PTSD. Complex PTSD, known also as c-PTSD, can develop when an individual is exposed to many traumatic experiences, or one prolonged trauma. This often occurs in those in the armed forces, people in abusive relationships, and victims of human trafficking. 

Traditional treatments of PTSD focus on a combination of pharmaceuticals and psychotherapy. These both can help the patient gain more control over the thoughts and actions, but the process can be long and difficult. Antidepressants and other medications to reduce nightmares are also often used, as people with PTSD can often have trouble sleeping due to reliving the traumatic moments while dreaming. 

What Can Marijuana Do?

There is no evidence that medical marijuana by itself can cure PTSD. It can, however, help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of PTSD, as we previously discussed, are nightmares. Nearly three quarters of PTSD sufferers are estimated to experience nightmares brought on by their past trauma [1]. For patients experiencing these nightmares, medical marijuana may be able to help reduce their frequency. Studies have found that both THC and CBD are effective at reducing the amount of nightmares experienced by those diagnosed with PTSD [2]. These findings correlate with other studies showing the endocannabinoid system specifically as being good targets for future PTSD therapies [3]. CBD has also been found to have fantastic anti-anxiolytic properties, which may also be of interest to those with PTSD. CBD can do this by binding to receptors in specific regions of the brain responsible for modulating responses to stressors [4]. These same effects can also help fight depression and elevate mood in people with PTSD, which can go a long way to increase their quality of life. 

What Form of Medical Marijuana Best Treats PTSD?

Depending on the symptom you are looking to treat, the form and strain of marijuana you should use could be different. For example, someone looking to calm their nerves may want to stay away from high THC strains, as the associated high may actually increase feelings of anxiety, especially if the high is unwanted. Strains high in CBD would be beneficial for those looking to fight anxiety and depression, and Indica strains in particular have been reported by users with PTSD to be effective. For people looking for better sleep, however, a strain with a more even ratio of THC and CBD may be recommended, as THC can help people get to sleep, and CBD has been found to help people stay asleep. 

Depending on the situation, different methods of application may be recommended. If quick relief is needed, vaping full flower or concentrates can provide the fastest results. Tinctures can be used to discreetly use medical marijuana, which can be helpful when having friends or family over. For long lasting results, edibles allow cannabinoids to slowly enter the bloodstream after being metabolized, which can provide slightly different effects, so some experimentation may be required. 

Find out if you pre-qualify for an Ohio medical marijuana card today by completing our easy, online eligibility survey. If you’d like to speak with one of our Patient Care Coordinators, please call (877) 899.3626 or use the Live Chat feature located at the bottom right corner of our website. Our team members are available Monday-Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 

Resources

[1] Management of nightmares in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder: current perspectives 

[2] Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series 

[3] Endocannabinoid System as Therapeutic Target of PTSD: A Systematic Review 

[4] Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders