Between seven and eight percent of people will develop PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in their lifetime. Among military veterans, the rates are higher.
Care By Design surveyed 300 patients in 2016 on their use of cannabis and other medications to treat PTSD. The survey asked what medications patients had been prescribed for their PTSD-related symptoms and what impact these medications—and cannabis—had on five telltale symptoms of PTSD: anxiety, depression, pain, anger or irritability, and sleep problems.
Among the findings of the survey:
- Respondents reported that cannabis was the most likely to improve PTSD symptoms and the least likely to make symptoms worse.
- Veterans reported being prescribed more pharmaceutical medications than civilians. They were also more likely to be prescribed medications that generally worsened their symptoms, including anti-psychotics, narcotic pain meds, and so-called mood stabilizers.
- The most common medication prescribed for the treatment of PTSD among survey respondents was anti-depressants. Yet, few report these were effective. Only 18% of respondents said their depression got better on anti-depressants. Half reported that their depression got worse on anti-depressants.
- Roughly half of respondents reported they had been prescribed narcotics for PTSD, and a majority of them reported that their anger and irritability, depression, and sleep problems got worse while they were on narcotics.
- Half of the respondents reported using CBD-rich cannabis to treat their PTSD symptoms.
- 80% of respondents reported that they consume less alcohol when using cannabis.
While largely anecdotal and limited in scope, this survey offers hope for PTSD sufferers. A growing body of research suggests that there is a strong connection between the endocannabinoid system and PTSD, and that cannabis therapy may help address the root causes of PTSD, including impaired fear extinction, poor memory consolidation, and chronic stress.
Research for this article was supported by CannaCraft, a California-based medical marijuana company.
Dr. Sue Sisley discusses the applications of cannabis as an alternative to traditional therapies for PTSD. The video also featuries Jahan Marcu, Marcel Bonn Miller, and Dustin Sulak.
Scientific research highlights the crucial role of the endocannabinoid system in protecting against PTSD, a debilitating chronic condition involving horrific memories that cannot be erased. Medical scientists are studying potential PTSD treatments that target the endocannabinoid system.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder with symptoms like anxiety, anger, depression, irritability, sleep problems, and sadness. It occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.