Can CBD Really Help Those With PTSD?

Nearly 50 percent of all Americans experience trauma at one point in their lives. A percentage of these individuals will develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The chance of a woman being impacted is almost three times higher than a man. PTSD is a difficult condition to live with. Evidence has suggested CBD may be able to help with the treatment of PTSD.

This is especially true regarding symptoms related to sleep and anxiety. The risk of PTSD varied depending on the type of trauma: violent assault was associated with the highest risk for developing PTSD after exposure to a second trauma. A history of two or more traumatic events involving violent assault in childhood was also associated with a high risk of PTSD from trauma in adulthood.

Diagnosing PTSD

For an official diagnosis of PTSD, specific criteria must be experienced for a minimum of 30 days. This includes reliving events through nightmares or trauma. These images are often so disturbing and realistic, the quality of the individual’s life is disrupted. Reliving events can be triggered due to specific images, sounds, words or something completely different. CBD can help the individual improve the quality of their sleep.

The individual experiences symptoms leading to the avoidance of certain activities, places or people reminding them of the trauma. These symptoms also impact the quality of an individual’s life. PTSD often leaves the individual on edge or extremely irritated. In some instances, the individual forgets the event leading to PTSD, resulting in detachment, negativity and guilt. CBD may help with depression, mental health disorders and sleep issues associated with PTSD.

CBD and Memories Linked to PTSD

CBD activates both the CB1 and CBD2 receptors when ingested, applied through the skin or inhaled. The cannabinoid receptors are located in the endocannabinoid system. The effect goes through the central nervous system offering numerous benefits including altering the processing of memories and increasing pleasure. The traumatic memory is then blocked from retrieval due to the cannabinoids. This means as the CBD is blocking the memory, the individual receives a pleasure boost.

The result is a decrease in anxiety regarding the traumatic event. The reduction in negative emotions linked to the memory helps relieve arousal and avoidance symptoms. As time passes, CBD helps prevent the individual from constantly reliving the traumatic memory. As the details and intensity of the memory begin to lessen, anxiety is also decreased. One of the main reasons CBD may be such an effective treatment for PTSD is it addresses the emotional and cognitive issues.

The typical medications used for the treatment of PTSD have a lot of side effects as opposed to CBD. Antidepressants and SSRIs often negatively impact the libido, create issues such as insomnia or sleep problems and cause headaches and nausea. In rare instances, the risk of suicide or depression is increased by medications. CBD provides therapeutic benefits a lot like medications without all of the nasty side effects. This is the reason many experts believe CBD is the ideal replacement for medication. 

The Impact of CBD on Anxiety

When CBD is used on a regular basis, the anxiety resulting from PTSD may be reduced. Numerous individuals living with PTSD were the victims of major trauma resulting from a preditor including a shooter in a workplace or community setting or an enemy in combat. A study was conducted regarding predator threat stress. The researchers studied the effect of this type of stress on the individual in addition to the potential implications regarding PTSD.

The researchers exposed rats to their most common predator, a cat. After 60 minutes, repeated or singles CBD doses were given to the rats. The rats receiving regular CBD doses experienced less anxiety for the next week after being exposed to the cat. The researchers believe this was the result of the 5HT1A receptors found in the frontal cortex and hippocampus being activated by the CBD. The conclusion was the anti-anxiety benefits of CBD may offer significant benefits for individuals with PTSD. 

CBD and Substance Abuse Linked to PTSD

Numerous studies have suggested the potential for treating PTSD with CBD is well beyond the initial symptoms. CBD may be an excellent option for individuals suffering from SUD or a combination of comorbid abuse disorder and PTSD. Individuals with PTSD often develop an issue with substance abuse. Some individuals turn to substances such as alcohol as a coping mechanism and become addicted. The chances of suffering from SUD are two to four times higher for individuals with PTSD.

Approximately one-third of all veterans suffering from substance disorders have PTSD as well. The impact of CBD on fear memories was reviewed by researchers in 2017. CBD disrupts fear memory processing by disrupting the reconsolidation process. This may help eliminate the fear memory by decreasing the response to acute fear. CBD additionally decreases the way the fear of the individual impacts the specific memory. This is incredibly important because PTSD is difficult to treat due to the reliving of events.  

The individual is conditioned to feel fear due to their association with the event. This response intensifies the memory every time it is re-experienced. The negative feedback turns into a loop reinforcing the symptoms of PTSD and reliance on the substance being abused. The final result is a relapse. CBD may be able to break the loop by changing the way the individual responds to fear. CBD may be the best option for SUD and PTSD.