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How CBD Affects PTSD and Anxiety

Did you know …

Around 11% to 20% of veterans who served in the Middle East and about 12% who served in the Gulf War have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a given year.

At least 20% of veterans who served in the Middle East have anxiety, stress, and/or depression.

PTSD is common in war veterans and victims of sexual assault, but anyone who has experienced a traumatic event can also have it. PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder. Traumatic events include:

 

  • Military combat
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Type of abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Death of a loved one

 

After a person experiences a traumatic event, they tend to become confused and anxious or experience nightmares or mood swings. If these symptoms continue and worsen, it can develop into PTSD.

The Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD

For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, he/she must display all four symptoms for a duration of at least one month:

  • Reexperiencing Events –You reexperience the trauma through a nightmare or flashback triggered by certain words, images, sounds, or something else.
  • Avoiding Symptoms – You avoid certain people, activities, or places that remind you of the traumatic event even if you had no issue with these situations before.
  • Two or More Activity or Arousal Symptoms – You reexperience events outside of your triggers, causing you to become more irritable, remain on edge, or sleep less.
  • Two or More Cognition and Mood Symptoms – You reexperience events outside of your triggers, causing you to have trouble recalling the event, develop feelings of guilt, feel detached from things you once enjoyed, or self-directed negativity.

Additionally, people with PTSD may experience depression, sleep disorders, substance abuse problems, and other mental health disorders.

Common PTSD Treatment Methods

Treatment for PTSD includes combing psychotherapy with antidepressant medicines. Certain psychotherapeutic approaches for treating PTSD fall in the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves the therapist working with an individual and helping them identify the counterproductive behaviors and thought patterns that can harm their psyche and develop healthier behaviors and thoughts to counteract them. PTSD therapies include:

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET) – You work with a therapist to encounter people, places, or things you’ve been avoiding.
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)­– You discuss your trauma with your therapist, writing down your thoughts about it to find patterns.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) –You’ll mentally focus on your trauma while you watch or listen to another neutral trigger such as light or music.
  • Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) – You’ll learn various stress management techniques such as breathing techniques to cope with your triggers and negative events.

These are traditional treatment methods to treat PTSD and anxiety. A new treatment method that has been introduced to treat PTSD and anxiety is CBD.

According to the Following Research, CBD Can Treat PTSD and Anxiety

  • Researchers administered CBD orally and provide routine psychiatric care to eleven patients with PTSD and discovered a decrease in the symptoms of PTSD. After eight weeks, PTSD symptoms reduced by 28%. Researchers also noted that patients reported experiencing less nightmares.
  • A study discovered that CBD may provide patients with PTSD therapeutic benefits.

Treatment with CBD for PTSD

CBD or cannabidiol is the non-psychotomimetic compound of Cannabis Sativa. CBD doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects as THC or tetrahydrocannabinol does. CBD affects memory retention, which has been a subject of researchers trying to find and establish a link between using CBD for the treatment of PTSD and anxiety.

Your body naturally creates molecules known as endogenous cannabinoids. These molecules are grouped into cannabinoid receptors found throughout your body and brain. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for stabilizing bodily processes and regulating several functions of the brain, including the ones that affect traumatic memories such as sleep, memory, and fear.

Since CBD can affect your memories and how you form and recall them, people living with PTSD can greatly benefit from them.

How CBD Affects Traumatic Memories Related to PTSD

When you introduce CBD into your body through oral ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin (transdermal), it activates two cannabinoid receptors — CB1 and CB2 — in your endocannabinoid system.

This causes your central nervous system to increase pleasure, change memory processing, among other actions. When this happens, the cannabinoids prevent you from retrieving your traumatic memory. In short, your body experiences an increase in pleasure whereas the traumatic memory gets blocked, allowing you to feel less anxious about your traumatic experience while reexperiencing the event. Since you’re no longer experiencing negative emotions with the traumatic memory, PTSD symptoms such as arousal and avoidance symptoms get reduced.

CBD will prevent you from constantly recalling the memory and remembering it with such intensity and detail while reducing anxiety related to PTSD. CBD as a treatment for PTSD and anxiety is effective in addressing both the emotional and cognitive aspects of the disorder.

Additional benefits of CBD include having fewer side effects than medications used for the treatment of PTSD. Some symptoms of taking medications include lower libido, headaches, nausea, and sleep disorders such as insomnia. For this reason, most people are considering CBD for veterans with PTSD, labeling it as a suitable replacement.

How CBD Affects PTSD-related Anxiety?

Repeated doses of CBD may reduce PTSD-related anxiety in veterans. Researchers studied how CBD affects rats when exposed to predators and how it results in PTSD. They exposed the rats to a cat and after an hour, administered a single or continuous dose of CBD.

The rats given a continuous dose of CBD saw a reduction in anxiety over the duration of seven days after being exposed to the cat. Researchers concluded that CBD activated the 5HT1A receptors in the brain and further said that CBD could benefit people with PTSD.

If you’re a veteran experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, consider discussing with your doctor about using CBD as a treatment option. Anyone who has been through a traumatic experience and has developed PTSD should discuss using CBD as a treatment option.

The information here is to help you understand more about the benefits of CBD and its effects on PTSD and anxiety, but only your doctor can tell you whether this treatment is a good option for you or not. You also need to check CBD’s legalization status in your state before you can consider it as a treatment option for PTSD.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency.

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