PTSD – How CBD can manage a nightmare condition
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a legal chemical extract of the cannabis sativa plant. This wonderful natural compound is found in abundance in the cannabis plant and has many therapeutic uses.
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Patients given CBD expressed lower levels of anxiety, PTSD symptoms and enjoyed better sleep quality
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, often developed after experiencing a traumatic event. Closely associated with exposure to the horror of war, PTSD was first diagnosed in military veterans. However, we now understand that PTSD can arise from a range of traumatic experiences such as physical or emotional abuse, a natural disaster or an accident.
PTSD causes distinct symptoms which can have a profound effect on your quality of life. For example, sufferers can experience ‘intrusions’ – flashbacks and nightmares replaying a traumatic experience in their head. ‘Avoidance’ can manifest itself as avoiding the people or locations which trigger memories of a tragic event.
PTSD sufferers may be affected for the rest of their lives, without correct therapy and treatment. Those affected may suffer depression and anxiety, or panic attacks. Activities which they used to enjoy may be ruined as a person becomes consumed with negative thoughts. This means repercussions in their family life, as sufferers may become emotionally unstable and are unable to maintain relationships.
Now more than ever, the stigma around mental health disorders is being lifted, which we believe is a fantastic development. As greater awareness of mental health conditions are brought about, including high-profile campaigns by stars such as Prince William – the focus is on novel approaches to treatment.
Why use CBD to treat PTSD?
Scientists have found that CBD can cause a reduction in stress, flashbacks and fear. A 2018 study trialed the use of CBD as a therapy to reduce symptoms of PTSD. Patients given CBD expressed lower levels of anxiety, PTSD symptoms and enjoyed better sleep quality.
Further evidence was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Researchers noted a 28% decrease in PTSD symptoms, when 25mg CBD was administered over an 8-week period. Importantly, not one person dropped out due to side effects. This test was double-blind and placebo-controlled – we can be sure it is top-quality research.
The secret to CBD’s effectiveness lies in your brain chemistry. Researched found that PTSD sufferers have reduced levels of anandamide – a neurotransmitter chemical. Anandamide is responsible for regulating happiness and anxiety, working as a ‘natural antidepressant’.
By enhancing the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, CBD can modulate your body’s response to fear and low mood. Taking advantage of your body’s own chemistry, CBD can boost your mood and mental well-being.
What are the traditional treatments for PTSD?
As an anxiety-related disorder, your doctor may suggest antidepressant medication, coupled with counselling. SSRIs, a class of antidepressant, can be prescribed by a physician to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
Sertraline is an example of a SSRI that can enable PTSD patients to sleep, and reduce invasive thoughts. However, such drugs come with a range of side-effects, such as sexual dysfunction, weight gain and even suicidal thoughts.
Evidence suggests that antidepressants can be very effective when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of talking therapy. By re-evaluating your thoughts in sessions led by a trained psychologist, a patient can deal with traumatic experiences more effectively. Speak to your doctor if you identify with the symptoms of PTSD outlined in this article.
Another form of PTSD therapy which is gaining traction is Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET). This novel treatment involves therapists exposing patients to stimulus related to the event. By enabling a calmness within the patient, they may become more comfortable with their traumatic memories.
What else can CBD do for mental health?