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
SEP 20, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
SEP 20, 2019
Will Cannabis Facilities Pollute the Air?
The strong smell of cannabis comes from chemicals that could potentially cause indoor or outdoor air pollution, if not properly managed, a new study finds....
OCT 11, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 11, 2019
Medical Marijuana Allowed in California K-12 Schools
Gavin Newson, the governor of California and the leading 2016 proponent of the recreational pot legalization initiative Proposition 64, signed a bill on We...
DEC 10, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 10, 2019
Increased Cannabis Use Associated with Depression in U.S.
More than 700,000 people ages 12 and older responded to a survey assessing cannabis use, depressive status, and perceptions of risk associated with cannabi...
JAN 24, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 24, 2020
Sting Operation: Underage Customers Can't Buy Cannabis
Cannabis retailers in Colorado, Washington and Oregon have received top marks in secret tests to determine whether they were selling to underage buyers (yo...
FEB 25, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
FEB 25, 2020
Marijuana Use Among Seniors Over 65 Skyrockets
Following its legalization, cannabis and its products have become increasingly popular- and not just among young people. Researchers from New York Universi...
MAR 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
MAR 03, 2020
Smoking Cannabis Accelerates Biological Age
Although cannabis is increasingly recognized for its medicinal properties, it should only be used after considering its side effects too. This comes especi...
Loading Comments...