Cannabis / Marijuana and PTSD
According to Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a devastating mental condition that can occur after a traumatizing event has made a person fear their life was in immediate danger. PTSD can be the aftermath of a powerful assault on the person’s mind and emotions. The conventional treatments for PTSD may not be effective in some patients, so many are self-medicating with cannabis (marijuana) to improve their quality of life.
*PTSD Symptoms Alleviated by Cannabis
Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat PTSD symptoms; however, many people prefer using cannabis as a natural alternative to these drugs. There are various debilitating PTSD symptoms that can be alleviated by cannabis such as:
- Severe anxiety
- Lack of appetite
- Anger issues
- Depression or general sadness
How Does Cannibis Work?
Researchers believe cannabis works by removing associations to painful memories. This is helpful in PTSD patients who have flashbacks when they smell, hear or see something associated with the traumatic event that caused the PTSD. By extinguishing memory associations, PTSD patients may gradually see symptoms improve.
Proponents argue that the side effects of cannabis are trivial compared to side effects of pharmaceutical drugs given to treat PTSD. Common side effects of this medicinal herb include feeling happy, increases in appetite, cotton mouth and red eyes. These side effects are compared to those of antidepressants which may include agitation, headaches, sexual problems and even suicidal thinking.
Many states are now recognizing marijuana as an effective medication for medical conditions such as chronic pain, depression and cancer. However, PTSD patients cannot legally use marijuana because this mental disorder doesn’t qualify under most medical cannabis programs. Anti-marijuana laws make it difficult for PTSD patients to use cannabis without the threat of jail time hanging over the head. If arrested with possession of marijuana, patients are often put on probation restricting them from using cannabis. Some medical marijuana supporters say that it’s time to demand a change in this law because PTSD patients should be able to use cannabis without fear of arrest.
Cannibis Is a Temporary Fix for PTSD
Even if PTSD is put on the list of legitimate medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis, patients should understand that it’s not a cure. Cannabis only helps individuals to cope with the symptoms of PTSD; it doesn’t do anything to treat the actual issue. The key to recovering from PTSD is working through the trauma that caused the disorder. In a mental health treatment program, you can work through the reason behind the PTSD. Then you can begin to head toward a balanced, healthy life, free from debilitating stress.
A good treatment for PTSD is cognitive behavioral therapy. During these therapy sessions, you learn to replace thoughts of the traumatic event that make you feel stressed, upset or fearful with less distressing thoughts. You also learn new ways to cope with negative feelings like anger, guilt and fear. Instead of numbing your emotions with drugs like cannabis, it’s important to work through all the emotions and feelings associated with PTSD with a licensed therapist who understands the challenges and complexities of this mental disorder.
If you’d like help finding a treatment program that can help you truly treat your PTSD, rather than just masking it with cannabis use, contact us today. We are here 24/7 to help.