Marijuana and Its Positive Effects on the PTSD Community
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD, is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event. PTSD is a disorder that can affect any person across any culture, nationality, or age. About 3.5 percent of US adults are affected by PTSD and one in 11 people are likely to be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. There are many ways to help treat PTSD symptoms, one of which is through marijuana. So what does combining PTSD and marijuana do?
How does PTSD occur, and what are the symptoms?
PTSD has been a long-standing condition that wasn’t always understood. In WWI, soldiers who were traumatized on the battlefields were said to have “shell shock.” Though PTSD has had different names, it is understood now to be a condition associated with traumatic events. Trauma is not limited to military service, so the scope of PTSD has continued to grow as different kinds of trauma become understood.
While PTSD can affect nearly anyone at any age, at least three groups are disproportionately affected by PTSD, including US Latinos, African Americans, and Indigenous Americans. Biological sex also seems to affect the emergence of PTSD, with women being twice as likely as men to develop it. However, the fact remains that PTSD symptoms can occur in nearly anyone. Studies indicate that PTSD and marijuana-based treatment is one possibly helpful combination.
PTSD usually involves intense and disturbing thoughts related to a traumatic experience long after the experience has occurred. A PTSD attack often consists of the person reliving the event through flashbacks and nightmares. Their reactions will vary, but generally, there can be intense sadness, fear, or anger. Often they may isolate, feeling estranged from friends and loved ones – this is avoidance.
People with PTSD often will be avoidant of situations that can trigger them. A trigger is an event or action that can remind them of the traumatic event that can set off their PTSD episode. Triggers can vary, but common triggers include loud noises and touching. Some triggers may not even require the person with PTSD to experience the triggering event themselves; hearing about a violent death or assault, for example, can set someone with PTSD off. Cannabis-based PTSD treatments may help reduce these symptoms. But before combining PTSD and marijuana, it is important to know why PTSD can be so frightening.
Dangers of PTSD
Unfortunately, the fear, stress, and anxiety surrounding PTSD symptoms can grow more intense, and there are some associated dangers. One of the most common risk factors associated with PTSD is disturbing thoughts and feelings morphing into thoughts of self-harm. While not all PTSD victims have intrusive thoughts of self-harm, they are common enough to be considered a risk of PTSD.
In the case of intrusive thoughts of self-harm and suicide, it is advised people with PTSD reach out to someone close to them, a faith leader, a doctor, or to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.
How does marijuana help the PTSD community?
Though word of marijuana’s benefits has spread by word of mouth among people with PTSD, medical science is still behind. What are the benefits of treating PTSD with marijuana?
Cannabinoids (chemicals present in marijuana) may treat PTSD in a couple of ways. One way PTSD cannabis treatments can help is that they may reduce activity in the amygdala. The amygdala is a part of the brain associated with how we respond to fear and threats. A recent study involved using doses of THC (a chemical present in marijuana) to measure amygdala activity among trauma survivors, and many participants reported that they felt less fear with THC in their system in all of the tested groups.
A second way marijuana can help with PTSD is that it may help to bury traumatic memories. Such traumatic memories can be triggered by other associations and result in PTSD’s symptoms. Without the memories readily accessible, triggers may be lessened overall. This process, called “extinction learning” involves overwriting traumatic memories with new memories – the new addition of cannabis makes this easier for people with PTSD. The study indicates a receptor in the endocannabinoid system (which we all have) is stimulated by chemicals in marijuana. The chemical receptor can jump-start that process of overwriting traumatic memories.
While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not recommend cannabis as a treatment option in PTSD for veterans, growing studies indicate that there are plenty of upsides to using marijuana as a supplemental part of treatment. As with all things, caution and moderation are key when testing PTSD and marijuana for the first time. Cannabis can lessen PTSD symptoms, but as with any treatment, one must be careful.
How can Ozark MMJ Cards help?
Are you grappling with symptoms of PTSD? If you want to explore marijuana to manage your symptoms, you may be able to! PTSD is a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Arkansas and similar rules apply in other states, too.
Spend a few minutes taking our free, easy-to-use PTSD test. Our qualified medical staff will help you to determine if you might qualify for a medicinal marijuana card. When done, we will email you the evaluation results and guidance in booking an appointment with us for your medical marijuana certification. Understand your options when it comes to PTSD and marijuana; contact us today.