NOV 11, 2019 3:28 PM PST

Cannabis Linked with PTSD Relief

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Data from a new Canadian survey suggest that cannabis use can be beneficial for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric disorder that affects nearly 10 percent of Canada’s population.

The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.” Symptoms of PTSD can begin anywhere from three months of the incident to years after. A specialist in mental illness will diagnose PTSD by looking for symptoms of “re-experiencing,” “avoidance,” “arousal and reactivity,” cognition, and mood.

Despite the considerable number of Canadians with PTSD, the therapeutic options are few and far between. As PTSD patients are on average more likely to struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse, it is reasonable to understand why many turned to cannabis for a solution.

Researchers led an analysis of health survey data collected by Statistics Canada in a 2012 survey focusing on community and mental health. Data was collected from more than 24,000 Canadians ages 15 and older. Of those that responded, 420 participants reported a current clinical diagnosis of PTSD.

Nearly one-third (28.2%) of survey respondents reported using cannabis within the past year, a number almost three times the amount of people reporting the same cannabis use but without a PTSD diagnosis. For those respondents with PTSD but not reporting cannabis use, they were about seven times more likely to have experienced a recent major depressive episode and 4.7 times more likely to have thoughts of suicide compared with other respondents without PTSD who also did not use cannabis. This association was not linked to PTSD patients using cannabis.

“This is the first time that results from a nationally representative survey have shown the potential benefits of treating the disorder with cannabis,” explained lead author Stephanie Lake.

While the study does not make claims on how cannabis use may reduce the link between PTSD, depressive episodes, and suicidal thoughts, the results mark the beginning of a new approach to PTSD therapy. The data from the survey in this study highlight new avenues of research for cannabis science and mental health.

Sources: University of British Columbia, Journal of Psychopharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 20, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Safety Guidelines for Staying High During the Pandemic
MAR 20, 2020
Safety Guidelines for Staying High During the Pandemic
In times of high anxiety, uncertainty and home quarantine, stocking up on cannabis in legal states seems almost as popul ...
APR 17, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Does CBD Really Ease Arthritis Pain?
APR 17, 2020
Does CBD Really Ease Arthritis Pain?
Cannabis products are increasingly used to treat chronic pain from arthritis. As its non psychoactive ingredient, cannab ...
JUN 18, 2020
Health & Medicine
People Taking Medicinal Cannabis Report Greater Well-Being
JUN 18, 2020
People Taking Medicinal Cannabis Report Greater Well-Being
Legalization of medicinal cannabis is now fairly widespread, yet there's been a paucity of data collected on patient exp ...
JUN 20, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Prolonged Cannabis Use May Prevent Migraines
JUN 20, 2020
Prolonged Cannabis Use May Prevent Migraines
Between 1% and 2% of the world's population suffers from chronic migraines. Researchers from Israel have now found t ...
JUN 29, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
JUN 29, 2020
Should You Give Cannabis to Your Cat?
There is very limited research on the effects of cannabinoids on pets. Although some studies have emerged touting their ...
JUL 07, 2020
Health & Medicine
Recreational Cannabis: Is There a Heart Health Caution?
JUL 07, 2020
Recreational Cannabis: Is There a Heart Health Caution?
As of May 2020, Cannabis is fully legal in 20 states and has partial legality (e.g. it may be legal as a medicine b ...
Loading Comments...