Published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, the review shows that CBD may be the most promising cannabinoid to lead future treatments, but further research is needed before any pharmacological agent can be made and distributed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that may be developed following exposure to a stressful or frightening event. It is a chronic condition that can result in significant emotional distress and functional impairment due to the nature of the disorder’s symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, re-experiencing the trauma in the form of flashbacks or nightmares, hyperarousal, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and a heightened risk of developing other mental health problems or engaging in self-destructive behaviors.
The researchers explain in their review that PTSD symptomology is believed to arise as a result of a “combination of dysregulated biological stress responding and maladaptive memory processes,” and that these can be attributed to the excessive release of stress hormones directly following the traumatic event. The hormonal response in turn affects emotion, which can lead to the over-consolidation of traumatic memories. This over-consolidation is what gives rise to the intrusive memories and flashbacks that characterize PTSD.
Cannabis and the cannabinoids have been identified as a potential therapeutic to assist in the treatment of PTSD due to their action on the endocannabinoid system, which has been recognized as an important factor in the body’s response to stress, processing of emotional memories, and in the lessening of the fear response, also known as fear extinction learning.
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