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Does cannabis help people with PTSD? Many already know the answer

Posted November 22, 2019

Our world is cruel and a lot of people are broken. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more common than you think and people who are suffering from it often have suicidal thoughts and depression. A new study from the BC Centre on Substance Use and University of British Columbia found that cannabis can reduce these extremely worrying symptoms of PTSD.

PTSD is sometimes called “Soldier’s disease” because it often affects people with battlefield experience. Image credit: Marines via Wikimedia

PTSD symptoms may appear in a variety of life situation. For example, soldiers often suffer from PTSD after returning to a civil life. PTSD is also common between survivors of sexual abuse and other crimes. Therapy helps, some people turn to medicine, but a lot of them suffer in silence, often hindered by suicidal thoughts. In fact, suicide is much more common between people suffering from PTSD.

Many PTSD sufferers turn to cannabis for help. Scientists selected 24,089 eligible respondents from Statistics Canada’s 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health, which covers Canadians aged 15 and older. 420 people in this study reported a current clinical diagnosis of PTSD, 106 of them (28.2 %) reported past-year cannabis use. This, by the way, is higher than population without PTSD, of which only 11.2 % used cannabis within 12 months.

It is clear that people are self-medicating. It is believed that cannabis helps people relax and sleep better. However, no scientific study up until now looked into it more closely to determine whether these claims are true or not. Now scientists have evidence that it works.

The study revealed that those people with PTSD who are not using cannabis are 4.7 times more likely to have thoughts of suicide compared to cannabis non-users without PTSD and 7 times  more likely to have experienced a recent major depressive episode. Cannabis use was associated with significant reduction of intrusive thoughts about suicide and depressive episodes. Overall, people with PTSD who use cannabis experience less symptoms of the disease.

Dr. M-J Milloy, senior author of the study, said: “We’re only just beginning to understand what the therapeutic potential of cannabis may be for a variety of health conditions. These findings are promising, and merit further study in order to fully understand the benefits of cannabis for people living with PTSD”

Cannabis is becoming legal in more and more countries. However, it is still not included into any kind of guidelines regarding health and its health benefits are poorly researched. If it does help people with PTSD, it would make sense that it was recommended or at least included in booklets and websites, devoted to helping PTSD sufferers.


Source: UBC

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