By Emily Ledger
Every year, the month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Week – an event that has been occurring annually for 21 years. To honour the importance of mental health awareness, we have decided to spend each day from the 10th of May to the 16th of May, looking at the evidence of how cannabis and CBD may help or hinder our mental health.
For our next chapter, we will be exploring how cannabinoids can affect symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how CBD and cannabis are being increasingly utilised for this purpose.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that is triggered by “very stressful, frightening or distressing events”. The condition is often characterised through the reliving of a traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks. Individuals suffering from PTSD may also experience feelings of isolation and guilt.
According to the NHS, post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by any event that an individual finds traumatic. This can include serious road accidents, violent assault, abuse, and childbirth experiences. It is estimated that 3 in every 100 people may experience PTSD in their lives.
Can CBD and Cannabis Affect PTSD?
The potential of cannabis and cannabinoids for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is a growing area of research. An increasing number of people have reported benefits from using cannabis products to ease the symptoms of PTSD.
There is little clinical evidence to demonstrate the mechanisms through which cannabinoids can benefit symptoms of PTSD. However, it is widely believed that the compounds’ potential abilities to reduce anxiety may play an important role. Studies have shown that cannabis could have the potential to reduce or prevent heightened anxiety in threatening situations.
While clinical evidence is still lagging behind, there is a significant amount of anecdotal and patient-reported evidence supporting the benefits of cannabis-based products.
For example, although there is no solid data on how many PTSD patients use cannabis-based products, reports suggest that it has become a common option, whether with or without a medical prescription. In fact, a significant number of North American cannabis brands now offer discounts – or even free products – to veterans.
In the UK, however, current guidelines mean that medical cannabis can only be prescribed by specialist doctors. As things stand, those living with PTSD are highly unlikely to gain access to medical cannabis through the NHS, leaving private prescriptions or illicit cannabis as the only options for many.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
May 10th-16th represents Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK – an event dedicated to raising awareness and presenting “an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health.”
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week – ‘Nature’ – reflects on the importance of our connection to nature and how this can play an important role in our mental health. For more information, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.