Suffering trauma can have effects that last well beyond the traumatic event itself. Post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric ailment that affects nearly 8% of Americans. People from all walks of life can experience PTSD, as evidenced by the more than five million Americans between the ages of 18–54 suffering from the disorder today. Traumatic events such as car accidents, violent assaults, war, natural disasters and more can all cause PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD is characterized by stress reactions that follow a traumatic event and persist longer than three months. These stress reactions can cause great agony and disrupt a person’s entire way of life if gone untreated. According to the National Center for PTSD, these reactions typically manifest as three types of symptoms:
- Reliving the event: Recollecting the event includes nightmares and/or abrupt flashbacks to memories of the event. Flashbacks are almost always spurred by a trigger—something heard, smelled or seen that reminds a PTSD sufferer of the trauma they experienced.
- Avoiding situations reminiscent of the event: People suffering from PTSD often go to extreme lengths to avoid stress reactions, including rearranging their entire life to avoid circumstances reminiscent of the traumatic event. If the event happened in their home, they might move. If it happened in a car, they may stop driving. If it happened while walking on the street, they might not leave their home altogether. People suffering from PTSD also often steer clear of loud noises, crowded places and sleep to avoid nightmares.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: PTSD can go so far as to make a person alter their beliefs and feelings. People who were once socially active may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. In some of the most extreme cases, PTSD patients can become paranoid and distrustful of the world at large and all of the people in it.
Top 5 Cannabis Strains for Treating Symptoms of PTSD
Because PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that involves many of the symptoms that cannabis has proven to be effective in managing, medical marijuana’s popularity as a PTSD treatment is on the rise. Although much more research must be done, a handful of strains have been successful in managing anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, nightmares and other debilitating symptoms that come with PTSD.
1. Blue Dream
Blue Dream is one of the most popular cannabis strains in legal marijuana states across the country. Luckily, its popularity also makes it one of the most widely available strains out there. It’s a perfectly balanced hybrid strain known for its euphoric and long-lasting high that’s both welcoming enough for cannabis newcomers and pleasant enough for even the most experienced consumers.
For those dealing with PTSD, Blue Dream’s euphoric and mellow high is known for having a positive effect on mood, especially for those with anxiety and depression. Blue Dream is a good marijuana strain to choose for managing symptoms of PTSD during the day.
Harlequin is a specialty cannabis strain bred for its consistently high cannabidiol (CBD) content. Unlike many high-CBD marijuana strains, Harlequin still has a decent amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with a CBD to THC ratio of 5:2 in almost every Harlequin plant. This ratio is ideal for those living with PTSD because the high CBD content can have mood-stabilizing effects, while the THC can help fend off the nightmares that often terrorize PTSD sufferers. Harlequin is a great strain for medicating during the day or night.
Headband is an indica-dominant hybrid rich in THC (around 20%) that manifests in a strong mind and body high. Its potent THC level is good for relaxing the mind and can help those suffering from PTSD to skip the stage of sleep where most dreams and nightmares occur, and sail into deep sleep instead.
Headband is probably best used in the late afternoon or before bed. Keep in mind that many say the effects of this strain can take up to 20 minutes to fully appear.
4. Durban Poison
Durban Poison is a high-energy cannabis sativa strain known for its clear-headed and productive high. Durban Poison has been reported to help with social anxiety, energizing people who would usually feel burdened by social interactions. Sometimes PTSD can cause people to withdraw from social situations and friendships in general, and Durban Poison could be a natural way of treating that symptom.
When consuming Durban Poison, keep it mind that it’s a pure sativa strain. An increased heart rate is likely, which some cannabis consumers may not enjoy. When a high dose is introduced to a cannabis newbie or someone not used to consuming sativa strains, Durban Poison can even cause paranoia. And since paranoia is already something that PTSD patients can suffer from, exacerbating the problem isn’t productive. If you’re going to try this marijuana strain, take it slow at the beginning and work your way up to a higher dose over time.
ACDC is a high-CBD marijuana strain ideal for use during the day when focus, calm and productivity are needed. Originating from the popular marijuana strain Cannatonic, ACDC has a 20:1 CBD to THC ratio. This ratio allows the strain to impart increased productivity and relaxation of the mind and body—all without causing the dramatic effects a high-THC cannabis strain might bring on.
ACDC is an excellent place to start for those PTSD sufferers who are new to marijuana. And for those who are experienced with cannabis. but may be having trouble staying focused at home, work or school due to a traumatic event, ACDC is an ideal daytime medical marijuana option.
If you have experience using cannabis to treat PTSD symptoms, we’d love to hear what works for you in the comments below.
Photo credit: Ethan Sykes