Studies on Medical Marijuana and Illness, Part 3: Anxiety, Insomnia, and PTSD

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are among the most common medical conditions in the United States, affecting about 40 million adults or about one fifth of the national population.  Anxiety often co-occurs with related conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and sleep disorders like chronic insomnia.

Unfortunately, patients suffering from anxiety and its related conditions are among the least likely to receive adequate treatment.  The ADAA reports that while anxiety patients are “three to five times more likely to go to the doctor,” only one in three persons living with anxiety or related conditions like insomnia and PTSD will actually be treated for their condition.  That means about 27 million anxiety patients aren’t getting the help they need and deserve.

These numbers are simply unacceptable – especially when we have the medical means to safely and effectively ease many patients’ symptoms.  In conjunction with counseling/therapy and traditional anxiety medications, medical marijuana has proven to be a successful method of treatment for this group of conditions.  The studies excerpted below attest to this fact.

If you or someone you love is struggling to cope with anxiety, PTSD, or persistent insomnia, medical Cannabis may be an option.  To talk more about whether you qualify for medical marijuana in Massachusetts, call Inhale MD at (617) 477-8886.  Dr. Tishler will keep your information confidential.

multiple marijuana plants

Can Medical Marijuana Treat Anxiety and PTSD?

Anxiety isn’t a single, blanket condition.  Depending on the patient, anxiety might manifest as:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe Phobias
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety can negatively impact all aspects of the patient’s daily life, from their professional relationships to their personal relationships to their ability to engage in tasks they enjoy.  Symptoms and warning signs of anxiety can include frequent nausea, sweating, headaches, muscle tension, agitation, rashes, and irritability.

PTSD is an especially common form of anxiety, affecting about three million patients across the U.S.  Contrary to popular belief, PTSD is not always connected with military service, nor are all PTSD patients veterans of the Armed Forces.  PTSD can stem from any traumatic event or experience, with some common causes including physical assault, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and neglect during childhood.

  • Study – “Patterns of Marijuana Use Among Patients with HIV/AIDS Followed in a Public Health Care Setting”
  • JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
  • Publication Date – January, 2004
  • Findings – “Reported benefits included relief of anxiety and/or depression (57%), improved appetite (53%), increased pleasure (33%), and relief of pain (28%).”
  • Study – “Multiple Mechanistically Distinct Modes of Endocannabinoid Mobilization at Central Amygdala Glutamatergic Synapses”
  • JournalNeuron
  • Publication Date – March, 2014
  • Findings – “The central amygdala (CeA) is a key structure at the limbic-motor interface regulating stress responses and emotional learning…  These data identify a prominent role for eCBs [Endocannabinoids] in the modulation of excitatory drive to CeA neurons and provide insight into the mechanisms by which eCB signaling and exogenous Cannabinoids could regulate stress responses and emotional learning.”
  • Study – “PTSD Symptom Reports of Patients Evaluated for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program”
  • JournalJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
  • Publication Date – January, 2014
  • Findings – “Greater than 75% reduction in CAPS [Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Scale] symptom scores were reported when patients were using Cannabis compared to when they were not…  Cannabis is associated with reductions in PTSD symptoms in some patients…”

How Cannabis Helps Insomnia Patients Sleep

Insomnia isn’t just “having trouble sleeping”  here or there.  Everyone has occasional nights where they can’t fall asleep – but chronic insomnia is a serious condition that takes a debilitating toll.

Chronic and acute insomnia leave the sufferer in a permanent state of exhaustion, increase the risk of illness by weakening the immune system, increase the risk of driving accidents, and impair memory and concentration.  Like anxiety, persistent insomnia takes a heavy toll on the patient’s personal life, work life, social life, and romantic life.  However, medical marijuana may be able to provide relief, as the following studies indicate.

  • Study – “Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis: A Patient Survey”
  • JournalHawai’i Journal of Medicine and Public Health
  • Publication Date – April, 2014
  • Findings – “Half of all respondents also noted relief from stress/anxiety, and nearly half (45%) reported relief from insomnia…  No serious adverse effects were reported…  Cannabis appears to alleviate pain, insomnia, and may be helpful in relieving anxiety.”
  • Study – “Smoked Cannabis for Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
  • JournalCanadian Medical Association Journal
  • Publication Date – October, 2010
  • Findings – “We recorded effects on mood, sleep and quality of life, as well as adverse events…   Participants receiving 9.4% tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] reported improved ability to fall asleep (easier, p = 0.001; faster, p < 0.001; more drowsy, p = 0.003) and improved quality of sleep (less wakefulness, p = 0.01) relative to 0% tetrahydrocannabinol.”
  • Study – “Cannabis Use for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: Results of a Prospective Survey”
  • JournalPain
  • Publication Date – March, 2003
  • Findings – “Pain, sleep and mood were most frequently reported as improving with Cannabis use, and ‘high’ and dry mouth were the most commonly reported side effects.”

You may also be interested in reading about studies on the treatment of other conditions with medical Cannabis.  Other articles in this series cover:

  • Part 1 – Cancer, Tumors, and Glaucoma
  • Part 2 – Nausea, MS, and ALS
  • Part 4 – Chronic Pain, Diabetes, and Arthritis

If your quality of life is being negatively impacted by a serious medical condition, you may be a good candidate for medical Cannabis.  Call Dr. Tishler at (617) 477-8886 to start discussing the health benefits of medical marijuana in a private consultation.

MA specifically qualified conditions:

And other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician, which may include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression