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Top 6 Mental Illnesses That Benefit from Cannabis Use

Posted by Celine Kate on

Psychological illnesses are underestimated and oftentimes, ignored by our society.

In fact, due to a lack of education about mental disability, we have developed a stigma that it's ''all in your head''. Despite this sentiment being commonplace, people normally make fun of mental illness as though it’s a commonplace, nothing-to-worry about type of situation.  

However, it's actually one major issue that needs a solution - a concrete one.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered some surprisingly alarming facts - about 450 million worldwide are experiencing some sort of psychological illnesses.

And to put it in greater perspective, around 1 in 4 people will experience a psychological condition at some point in their life.

This makes it one of the leading causes of disability across the globe. And it’s not just a personal issue, but also a business one as well. The American Journal of Psychiatry noted that serious mental illnesses cost the United States $192.2 billion lost income annually.

Through today, many individuals suffering from mental illness have desperately battled to find relief.

Could cannabis be a catalyst?

Many believe it to be so.

There are many testimonies and inspirational stories surrounding cannabis use and relief of mental illness.

For example, some individuals say that cannabis provides relief from anxiety by way of a soothing effect helping ease their minds.

Interested in learning more about how cannabis can help relieve symptoms of mental illness? We’ve put together a list of the top 6 psychological illnesses that can benefit from cannabis use.

Depression

 
Blues, dysthymia and later on, fully blown depression - this is the leading cause of suicide worldwide.

Depression is a feeling of constant, inconsolable sadness and is one of the most common psychological illnesses (often left unseen).

Affecting approximately 300 million people across the globe, depression is a severe feeling of sadness and lack of energy, oftentimes resulting in self-harm. About 800,000 people die from suicide annually, with depression being the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.

People who have gone through huge, unexpected changes in their lives can suffer from depression. These can include unemployment, loss of a loved one, traumatic events, dropping out of school, or even other illnesses that affect a person's capacity to interact with others.  

Depression can also lead to other illnesses, whether psychological or physical.

While the medical sector provides treatments to counteract and repel depressive episodes, fewer than 10% of those suffering from depression receive treatment.

Some even claim that these treatments are unable to help them cope with depressive episodes. From a study published in the journal, “Frontiers of Psychology”, 25% of people taking medication to ease depression suffer from a relapse. And for those who have stopped taking anti-depressents, 42% will suffer from a relapse.

Looking for an alternative to traditional treatment has led more people to turn to cannabis for depression relief. A 2016 study by Linge reported that CBD (cannabidiol) exerts quick and maintained effects relieving depression - similar to the effects created through use of antidepressants which explains CBD's ability to ease depressive episodes.

Research conducted by Denson and Earleywine back in 2006 aimed to dichotomize patients with depression that frequently used marijuana versus those who who didn’t.

Over 4,400 adult internet users completed this survey - many of whom were severely-depressed marijuana users.

Weekly users of cannabis reported a lighter mood and improved depressive episodes when compared to those who did not. These individuals who used cannabis once or twice had lesser somatic complaints and better “psychological harmony” than those that did not smoke cannabis.

Want to learn more about depression and how CBD can help? Click here

Anxiety Disorder

 
As the most common mental illness in the United States, anxiety affects around 40 million adults in this single country alone.  
 
While anxiety is a normal fight-or-flight response, severe anxiety can often go out of hand. This can lead to an individual experiencing anxiety disorder which can cause increased levels of blood pressure and nausea.
 
What does this mean?
 
The American Psychological Association defines a person with anxiety disorder to have ''recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns''.
 
Unfortunately, only 39.6% of anxiety sufferers receive treatment.
 
People with an anxiety disorder are also about three to five times more likely to be hospitalized due to prominent psychiatric issues than non-sufferers.
 
Treatments such as anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, beta-blockers and serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are prescribed to individuals suffering from the disorder. And benzodiazepines, one of the leading anxiety disorder medications, is speculated to increase the risk of developing dementia for its users. This is one example of why individuals are searching for alternatives with one such alternative being cannabis.
 
A study published in the Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health three years ago aimed to examine 100 patients to see how cannabis impacted their recovery. It found that patients displayed better ability to manage pain, minimize anxiety attacks and reduce insomnia when using cannabis with negative effects being potential for diarrhea or sore throat.
 
Want to learn more about how cannabis can help those with anxiety disorder? Read about Jimmy, an individual who conquered post-surgery anxiety with the help of the herb.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

 
Among people who have experienced a traumatic event, 60-80% of them will likely develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
 
PTSD develops after an encounter with a traumatic event such as violent assault, accidents, witnessing a crime, death of a loved one, or a disaster.
Individuals suffering from PTSD consistently brave a sequence of frightening memories of the traumatic events, suffer a train of uneasy thoughts, sleep disorders, numbness, and can even be easily startled.
 
While treatments such as cognitive and exposure therapies, EMDR, and group therapy are available, some PTSD victims still struggle to cope with the episodes.
 
A recent study published in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry, showed how the compound CBD (cannabidiol) derived from cannabis sativa could benefit those suffering from PTSD. It was found that plant-derived cannabinoids such as those found in marijuana may benefit some individuals that are diagnosed with PTSD by alleviating the occurrence of nightmares and other disturbing symptoms.
 
Want to learn more about how one woman combatted PTSD in her 60s through the use of cannabis? Click here for more insight.

Bipolar Disorder

Also termed manic-depressive illness, this disorder is a roller-coaster ride between extreme happiness and excitement (mania or hypomania) and rock-bottom, dreadful sadness (depressive).

People experiencing the depressive episode of bipolar feel incredibly sad and hopelessness, losing interest in their hobbies and dissociating from others. When their mood shifts to mania or hypomania, these individuals feel incredibly happy and enthusiastic. They usually are full of energy, but can get agitated easily.

These unpredictable mood swings can strike anytime affecting the patient’s sleep pattern, energy levels, judgement, and their behavior.

With 5.7 million American adults suffering from this disorder, it’s not an illness that society can just ignore. Contrary to the myth that it is a rare condition, a study from the Columbia University showed that those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are rapidly growing in number, especially in children and adolescents.

Mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, antipsychotics, and psychotherapy are some of the most used treatments to eradicate and neutralize bipolar disorder. While these treatments are readily available in the market, as with other mental health conditions, some patients still struggle to find the “right” cure.

As you may guess, cannabis is one such cure that many have turned to, and for good reason.

One study, examining 74 adults with bipolar I disorder, found that marijuana had the ability to alleviate symptoms of mood changes for those suffering from the condition. Another such study, led by Gruber in 2012 had similar findings. Examining 43 adults, Gruber’s team found that marijuana use led to significant improvement in participants’ mood and significantly reduced mood disturbance within the group.

One individual we spoke with, Kathy, experienced similar positive results when using cannabis to help with her PTSD, bipolar & anxiety disorders, and weight loss.

And that brings us to…

Borderline Personality Disorder

Characterized by an intense fear of being alone and having rapid, intense mood changes, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one psychological illness that often looks normal to others.

However, people with BPD often feel as though they aren’t good enough, and hold an intense, unrealistic fear of being abandoned.

These individuals are usually impulsive and easily angered. However, most people that are unaware of this psychological illness presume that the individual is suffering from an ordinary “mood swing”. And underneath it all, these individuals diagnosed with BPD can suffer from periods of stress-related paranoia that leads to a desire for self-harm.

This lesser-known psychological illness affects more than 14.7 million adult Americans in about one point in their lives, with around 1.6% of America’s population suffering from BPD. Though it might sound smaller in number when compared to other disorders, 70% of individuals diagnosed with BPD have attempted at least one suicide in their lifetimes.

Behavioral therapies and prescription drugs that help with calming BPD sufferers are given to address symptoms that can lead to the worst effects, but can also lead to many negative side-effects. While some are able to tolerate high dosages of prescription drugs typically used to treat this disorder, not all can, and this is where cannabis can come into play.

Cannabidiols (CBD), found in cannabis, provide people with the ability to calm down. CBD, when introduced to a BPD patient, can reduce symptom severity without too many of the side-effects found in normal prescription drugs.

Psychosis

 
Affecting approximately 100,000 adolescents and young adults in America annually, psychosis has become one of the most prevalent psychological disorders that we see. With 3 out of 100 people being affected by the disorder at some point in their lives, this is the last mental illness in this list because it is, as of yet, the most difficult to treat.

Psychosis includes symptoms such as paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and violence, paired with disoriented thoughts and speech. Patients suffering from psychosis can find themselves at a total disconnect from reality, making it hard for them to live a normal life.

These individuals often have fewer chances to socialize as they can become violent.. Symptoms can range from having unusual, surreal beliefs and changes in perception and behavior, to a range of hallucinations and delusional thinking. Untreated and severe depression can also be considered a mild form of psychosis.

Recently, CBD has caught the eye of researchers studying psychosis. Philip McGuire, of King’s College of London’s Institute of Psychiatry, found that prescription anti-psychotic drugs mainly alleviate psychosis through blocking of dopamine receptors. However, Philip has emphasized that the industry is in need of new treatments that target other neurotransmitter systems which are also responsible for causing psychosis.

In one blind clinical trial, 88 randomized schizophrenia patients were observed within a six-week period. Half of the group received their prescription drugs, while the other half received their every day dose of 1000mg CBD extract in combination with their prescription medication.

The study showed that the patients who have been given CBD along their usual prescription medication performed better. Their psychotic symptoms were more often found to have subsided and were thus labeled to be “not severely unwell”.

McGuire elaborated that CBD represents a different class of treatment as shown in the study. The study indicated that CBD might be a treatment for psychosis, contrary to the common stigma that cannabis worsens the mental condition.

Conclusion

Psychological disorders are prevalent throughout society, but often overlooked as a condition of minor significance easily overcome.

However, as the world has become increasingly aware of the needs of those with these disorders, there has been a realization that traditional prescription drugs might not be enough for some.

For many, cannabis and CBD have provided for much needed relief, and even might have saved their lives.

We’ve put together a list of the top 6 mental illnesses that benefit from cannabis use, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Psychosis

Many individuals diagnosed with these disorders have reported that cannabis and CBD usage have benefited their lives.

Could cannabis be what’s needed to combat these mental illnesses?

The world is increasingly saying, “yes it is”.

Let us know how cannabis usage has affected you or someone you know in a comment below!

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