Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a mental health disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. The events that cause PTSD vary from person to person, but extreme experiences outside of the normal realm of day-to-day life can cause the onset of this condition. Witnessing an accident, surviving a natural disaster or unexpectedly losing a loved one are all examples of traumatic events which could result in the development of PTSD.
To be diagnosed with PTSD, there are six criteria to be met:
1. Exposure to a traumatic event that caused intense fear or horror
2. A traumatic event is re-experienced through thoughts, dreams or feelings
3. Individual avoids stimuli that are connected to the trauma
4. Individual experiences persistent symptoms that weren’t present before the trauma (e.g. as difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, irritable, etc)
5. The symptoms persist for more than a month
6. The symptoms cause impairment of daily activities (e.g. work and social gatherings)
Anyone can develop PTSD, and it can occur at any age. Luckily, the condition itself is treatable, and a variety of therapeutic options have
been proven to be effective.
Not everyone will develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic even. Also, many patients who develop PTSD will have symptoms that subside on their own over time. For those who require treatment for their symptoms, there are effective options available.
The most commonly used behavioral therapies include:
the patient discusses troublesome memories and is given tools for processing them and controlling reactivity to distressing memories or triggering events.
the patient confronts their fears is slowly escalating, controlled exposure situations to reduce the fear reaction when they encounter frightening events.
where patients suffering from PTSD work with their peers to share experiences in a safe environment, while learning from others different tools to control their reactions to triggering events.
Some patients also turn to the use of pharmaceutical medications ranging from antidepressants to benzodiazepines to sleep aids. These medications have a high risk of addiction and dependence, in addition to other harmful side effects like memory impairment, blackouts, over eating, and emotional lability. Unfortunately, these types of prescriptions aren’t always enough. They tend to treat specific symptoms and the benefits don’t always last. In certain cases, the more aggressive symptoms such as night terrors,
persist even with medication.
Luckily, there’s emerging research that supports the benefits of treating PTSD with medical cannabis. This natural alternative is creating waves in the veteran community where the PTSD statistic is high. The results are very exciting.
PTSD results in a myriad of symptoms including anxiety, fear, depression and sleep disturbances. Cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis, bind with receptors in the brain to help manage these symptoms.
Cannabidiol (CBD) in particular has been shown to mimic the effects of SSRI’s by enhancing serotonin signaling within the brain. This helps to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Another famous cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has its share of medicinal benefits as well. Specifically when it comes to sleep, THC has been discovered to reduce REM sleep. This phase of the sleep cycle is when nightmares occur, so THC is proving to be quite an effective sleep aid for those with PTSD night terrors.
Research has also found that individuals with PTSD have lower than normal cannabinoid production, specifically in the production of anandamide. Our bodies produce these chemicals endogenously, so when too few are produced, medical cannabis can have a therapeutic effect by supplementing with THC and other cannabinoids. Through supporting their body’s endocannabinoid system through medical cannabis use, patients can address numerous symptoms that arise with PTSD.
HB 1535 was passed in Texas this year. It adds PTSD to the qualifying conditions for the Compassionate Use Program in our state. At Compassionate Telemedicine, we look forward to helping countless of Texas suffering from PTSD.