Can CBD Oil Help with PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of people each year. Traditional treatment for this disorder has been somewhat effective, however some sufferers still find themselves struggling to make it through the day. New research suggests that cannabis, and specifically CBD products, can be used to treat PTSD and alleviate symptoms.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a stress disorder with symptoms of uncontrollable anxiety and flashbacks caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Although flashbacks and anxiety are the most common symptoms, nightmares and insomnia are often associated with PTSD, as well.
Those that suffer from this disorder often feel stressed or in danger when no real physical threat exist. They may avoid locations or events that remind them of their trauma, which often leads to a fear of the outside world, known as agoraphobia.
PTSD affects everyday life for those that suffer. They often experience feelings of numbness or guilt, find themselves depressed or unable to enjoy hobbies, become easily startled, and may have angry outbursts. This disorder can lead to the marginalization of these individuals, as well as issues maintaining relationships.
Who is affected by PTSD?
PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. It is most commonly associated with war veterans returning from active war zones. However, robbery, mugging, car accidents, plane crashes, physical attacks, or natural disasters may induce PTSD in certain individuals.
PTSD can begin in childhood or by an unexpected trauma. As a result, many people are unaware of their disorder until later or are unable to recognize the signs and symptoms and do not seek treatment.
Because the causes of PTSD vary so widely, nearly any demographic can be affected. However, women are twice as likely to develop PTSD than men.
What is current treatment like?
Current treatment for PTSD includes a variety of psychotherapeutic methods and medicines. Sufferers are usually treated with one of three methods:
- Exposure Therapy: Exposes patients to trauma in a physically safe manner.
- Cognitive Restructuring: Helps patients make sense of bad memories.
- Stress Inoculation Training: Teaches patients how to reduce anxiety.
Therapy is often coupled with the use of antidepressants to help quell feelings of sadness, anger, worry, or numbness. However, many of these medicines come with side effects, such as headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, drowsiness, agitation, and sexual performance problems. As a result, many people with PTSD find themselves in an endless cycle of reactionary treatment.
How can CBD help?
Studies have shown that cannabinoids can be used to lessen the symptoms of traumatic experiences and help patients control anxiety and fear and find solace in sleep.
CBD is a cannabinoid that interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. This system is vital to maintaining emotional homeostasis and regulating memory consolidation, retrieval, and extension. As a result, patients often experience increased pleasure and a decrease in traumatic memory processes.
One study suggested that patients that took CBD experienced a 75% reduction in the three main symptoms of PTSD (re-experiencing, numbing, and hyperarousal) compared to those who didn’t use the substance. Specifically, veterans were able to regulate their emotions more easily and raise their tolerance for stress related issues. Many were able to improve their sleep patterns and rid themselves of stress-inducing nightmares.
Doctors believe that when CBD is used acutely to prevent symptoms, it is more effective than chronic use. They also believe that CBD products can be used to prevent the development of such symptoms in the first place.
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