Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is related to anxiety as a disorder, and is often developed after exposure to a traumatic event. Warfare, assault, rape/sexual assault, traffic collisions and threats to a person’s life are common causes of PTSD, especially when the trauma is particularly devastating, long-lasting and/or persistent. There is usually an increase in flight-or-fight responses and/or a “shutting down” of emotions. Mental and/or physical distress to trauma-related cues, dreams related to the traumatic event, dramatic alterations in thinking and disturbed thinking are other symptoms. PTSD does seem to have a genetic component to it, and those with a smaller hippocampus.

Approximately 5% of Americans – around 13 million people – have PTSD at any one given time. It is estimated that approximately 8% of adults, or 1 in 13 people, in the US will develop PTSD during their lifetime. PTSD leads to an increased risk of suicide and addiction to substances, and being constantly stressed may well make one more susceptible to other illnesses.

Antidepressants – particularly of the SSRI subgroup – and counselling are the first port of call for those suffering from PTSD. However, this is not always effective, and many medications like benzodiazepines may make things much worse. Whilst cannabis’s efficacy for PTSD isn’t proven as of yet, many veterans have used it to alleviate the symptoms of “shell shock”.

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