Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Medical Cannabis
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or simply PTSD is a mental disorder that usually develops after a person witness or experiences a life-threatening event, such as sexual abuse, military combat, a car accident, natural disasters, terrorist incidents. This disorder can occur to anyone, not having a way to control it from happening. The ‘PTSD United’ statistics show that 70% of the Americans have experienced a traumatic event at least one time in their lives, and 20% of these people will develop PTSD.
The symptoms of PTSD usually start right after the trauma occurs, but some people just feel the symptoms months or years after it happened. The most common symptoms are:
- Flashbacks and nightmares related to the trauma, a sense that you are constantly reliving the event
- Avoid trauma-related situations, you may try to escape any person, place or situation that reminds the event that happened
- Think about the event many times, not accomplishing to avoid the thoughts even when you want to
- Negative thoughts and pessimism will follow you, activities that used to be fun and enjoyable become uninteresting, you may feel insecure, unhappy, numb, ashamed by the situation, thinking that everything around you is dangerous and not trustworthy
- You may have problems sleeping, concentrating, and also start having physical problems like diarrhea, constipation, muscle tension, rapid breathing or rapid heart rate
- You become more easily angry or irritable and you can initiate unhealthy habits such as drug or alcohol abuse
Medical Marijuana showed positive results when treating patients with PTSD. The most common treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy and medication, often combined. As an alternative to the medication, many patients are looking for treating their symptoms with Cannabis.
The respected Israeli neuroscientist Raphael Mechoulam in recent studies discovered in his experience with mice that cannabis affected the animal’s memory. More specifically, memory extinction, the normal and healthy process of removing associations from stimuli. The mice have been administered with an electric shock. After the noise appears alone for some days, the mice with cannabis system forgot about the shock noise. Others without the cannabinoid system continued to cringe indefinitely at the noises. By that, Dr. Mechoulam concluded that cannabis could help patients with PTSD, who would gradually stop responding to the association between the stimuli and traumatic situations that may have happened.
Veterans are a large percentage of people who suffer from PTSD in the U.S., around 20% of veterans that returned home from the middle east were diagnosed with PTSD. Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs are unable to recommend the treatment of these veterans with Medical Cannabis since it is an illegal drug under federal law. If veterans are interested in triing treatment with cannabis, they are allowed to contact a physician to get a recommendation.
The doctor’s opinion varies a lot. An addiction psychiatrist in private practice, Dr. Edward Gogek believes that people are just pretending to use marijuana as a treatment. “You are talking about giving an addictive drug to people with substance-abuse disorders” said Gogek. He believes in other approaches to treating PTSD and other conditions. But Dr. Sue Sisley, an internist in private practice and assistant professor of psychiatry and internal medicine at the University of Arizona, says veterans only go after a cannabis treatment when conventional medicine doesn’t help.
There is a constant struggle between veterans and the VA. Since medical treatment is not cheap in the U.S. and all they have is VA. The number of veterans who seek a disability compensation for PTSD has increased by nearly 80%, which took VA to provide more than $4 billion in compensation. The number of people approving and looking for a medical marijuana treatment to alleviate PTSD symptoms is growing, especially because the community is finally knowing the benefits of cannabis for numerous of treatments.