What is PTSD and who can be diagnosed with it?
PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a result of witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, war/combat, serious accident, or being threatened with death, violence, or a serious injury. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is not something that only impacts veterans. PTSD can occur to anyone, of any ethnicity, age, or sex. PTSD has been known in the past as “shell shock” or “combat fatigue” during World War I and II. It was not until the 1980’s following research involving Holocaust survivors, sexual trauma victims, war veterans, and others, that PTSD was added as a diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the formal compendium of psychiatric disorders. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, one must have been exposed to a traumatic event and experience a list of symptoms as a result of that trauma for at least one month.
In Canada, it is estimated that as many as 2.5 million Canadians have suffered from PTSD in their lifetime, roughly 8% of those being members of the military. First Responders are also greatly impacted by PTSD, with Police Officers being roughly 8-32% of those diagnosed with PTSD. Sadly, people exposed to traumatic events generally suffer from depression, substance abuse, and suicide at a higher rate compared to the general population.
Common PTSD symptoms
Those suffering from PTSD may find it difficult to maintain their career or education, interpersonal relationships, and overall health. Intense disturbing thoughts, as well as flashbacks and nightmares, may also impact those suffering from PTSD. Avoidance is a common reaction to situations or people that may remind the individual of the traumatic event. PTSD symptoms may start within one month of the traumatic event or take years to appear.
PTSD has been linked to suicides by combat veterans. During Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, 158 Canadian service members died while on duty, six of those who committed suicide. A 2016 Globe and Mail investigation found that an additional 70 suicides occurred among members after their return home. Individuals who have been exposed to a traumatic event, and have been experiencing symptoms related to PTSD are encouraged to speak with their doctor or another mental health practitioner as soon as possible.
Apollo offers free healthcare services to all Canadians who are looking to learn more and speak to a healthcare professional about medical use for the treatment of mental health conditions and symptoms. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of PTSD or another mental health condition and would like to know how cannabis may benefit you, we would be happy to book you in for a free virtual appointment with one of our doctors.
Traditional treatment methods for PTSD
PTSD treatment can help those suffering regain a sense of control over their life. Common non-pharmacological treatments include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, support, and exposure therapies. The goal of these therapy methods is to teach individuals better ways of coping with their symptoms to achieve a better quality of life. In addition to psychotherapy, medication can also be used to help treat symptoms. Pharmacological treatment methods often include the use of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants. It’s important that individuals discuss treatment options with their doctor to find the best medication for the specific symptoms and situation.
More recently, cannabis is being increasingly prescribed (and studied) in conjunction with pharmacological treatments and psychotherapies as a more effective treatment plan for managing PTSD. Research and anecdotal evidence from our patients has also revealed that individuals often prefer cannabis over pharmaceuticals, as the side-effects from traditional pharmaceuticals can often be just as bad as the symptoms they were trying to initially treat.
Cannabis for PTSD
New research indicates that cannabinoid therapy can help treat PTSD. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants and in the human body. There are three subsets of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids. Cannabinoids act on receptors in the endocannabinoid system in our body. The most well-known phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) & cannabidiol (CBD).
In 2021, a systematic review was completed by the NCBI on cannabis in the management of PTSD. In three different studies with participants in the civilian and veteran populations, one conducted in 2017 showed that with the use of cannabis, patients saw a 72.2% reduction in PTSD symptoms. Other studies within this review show patients saw an overall increase in their quality of life, as well they saw a significant improvement in their social and family life. In most of the studies reviewed, cannabis was well tolerated with the main adverse effects being dry mouth, headaches, agitation, and palpitations.
Another study published in 2021 compares the results of PTSD treatment in three cannabis combinations as well as a placebo control group involving veterans. The study conducted by MAPS, showed levels of improvement with participants consuming cannabis with a THC percentage of 8-11%. Over the course of a year, participants “reported a greater decrease in PTSD symptom severity…” Cannabis users were found to be 2.5 times more likely to no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, compared to those who did not use cannabis.
How Can Apollo Cannabis Clinics Help Treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
If you are suffering from symptoms of PTSD and would like to find out more about how cannabis may benefit you, fill out our online form to book a free appointment. Once this form has been completed a Patient Care Specialist will call you to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors. During this appointment you will discuss your medical history and learn how using cannabis may benefit your condition or symptoms.
How does Apollo support Veterans?
Apollo Clinics provides exceptional care to Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, assisting with access to medical cannabis, VAC coverage, and ongoing support. Let our dedicated Veteran team manage your care, and paperwork and provide award-winning services along your journey to feeling your best. Click here to speak with our Veteran Care team.
Veteran Psychotherapy Program
Apollo Cannabis Clinics has partnered with select Psychologists across Canada to offer a Veteran Psychotherapy Program. The program aims to support veterans from the Canadian Armed Forces or retired members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police suffering from psychiatric conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, pain, and others.
Apollo’s psychotherapy program is available via secure video conference and in-person (where available). The program’s focus in treatment is to view each individual as unique, taking the time to understand each patient’s individual needs, providing treatment in a client-centered environment, and assisting in developing more effective coping strategies. Contact Apollo’s Veteran Care team today to see if you qualify for psychotherapy sessions that are fully covered through Veterans Affairs Canada.
We hope you found this article educational and interesting. As a doctor’s office, we want to share education and knowledge with our patients and the public when it comes to medical cannabis. You can see a list of many common conditions we see in clinics here, including anxiety, arthritis, sleep issues, chronic pain, and many more.
If you are interested in speaking with a physician about how medical cannabis could help improve your quality of life, you can book your free virtual appointment here.