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For people who have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it can be hard to feel safe. Everything from loud noises and large crowds to storms and scary movies can trigger an overwhelming feeling of fear.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 67% of people who experience mass violence develop PTSD. The condition can develop from experiencing a natural disaster, an accident, sexual assault, and witnessing violence. PTSD is also a severe threat to members of the military and civilians who work alongside our service men and women.
While 7.7 million Americans over age 18 have experienced PTSD, it can also affect children. The numbers of people living with PTSD are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about six of every ten men (or 60%) and five of every ten women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.
A complication of PTSD is that symptoms may not appear immediately after the traumatic event. It could take months for people to start re-experiencing the trauma in flashbacks and nightmares while suffering from emotional numbness, avoiding social situations, sleep issues, anxiety, and anger.
The Connection Between the ECS and PTSD
Stress like that experienced during PTSD impacts our whole body, including the autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, digestive system, and vascular system. When our bodies are stressed, inflammatory hormones flood our system. This happens when we live through the trauma, and for those who have PTSD, the rush of inflammatory hormones happens every time they remember the trauma as well.
Researchers looked at a group of people who were near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, during the terrorist attacks. They found that half those studied had PTSD. Those diagnosed with PTSD also had lower levels of cannabinoids compared to those who did not have PTSD. Particularly the cannabinoid receptor CB-1 plays a role in physiological functions, including emotions, stress adaption, and fear. People with normal CB-1 receptor signaling have the ability to forget the trauma and can feel safe when they remember the event.
In contrast, those with lower endocannabinoid and faulty CB-1 signaling experience PTSD symptoms such as increased fear, chronic anxiety, and traumatic memories. Also, chronic stress can deplete the endocannabinoid system and lead to stress-related illness.
This is where CBD can help. Taking supplemental CBD through tinctures, edibles, vaping, and topically can support the body in re-establishing homeostasis and balance while reducing inflammation. This combination of benefits can lead to reduced pain and increased calm.
Studies Show Promising Results
Although PTSD itself is not curable, because the traumatic event can’t be un-lived, the symptoms no longer have to control your life. The most common treatment is prescription medications, but many people end up feeling disconnected, clouded and even become reliant on the medication – seeking alternatives.
A study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience showed positive results for using CBD for the therapeutic treatment of PTSD, offering a possible alternative to opioids. In 2016, researchers announced that CBD showed a reduction in PTSD symptoms in humans. CBD has been shown to alter important aspects of traumatic memories. The researchers noted that CBD is safe, with few side effects, and is well-tolerated for humans making it a new therapeutic option for people suffering from PTSD.
PTSD does not just impact trauma survivors. When people suffer from this condition, it has the potential to affect all of their relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. There is help available! If you or someone you love is showing symptoms of PTSD, talk to a medical professional. If that does not seem like a possibility, take this screening from the ADAA. The ADAA offers online resources to get help and get back to living a full life after trauma.