November 07, 2019
People with post-traumatic stress disorder may be able to limit depression and suicidal thoughts by using cannabis, according to a new study from researchers in Canada.
The study, published this week in the Journal of Pscyhopharmacology, examined data from a 2012 national mental health survey which looked at the relationships between PTSD and other mental health issues, like depression and suicidal ideation.
PTSD is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a mental health condition triggered by either witnessing or experiencing a "terrifying event." A study from 2016 found that roughly 9% of Canadians will experience PTSD during their lifetime.
Researchers found 420 respondents from the 2012 survey with a current clinical diagnosis of PTSD. Nearly 30% of the 420 respondents with PTSD reported having used cannabis during the past year, compared to a cannabis use rate of just 11.2% among the roughly 23,000 respondents without clinical PTSD diagnoses.
In examining the survey's responses, researchers found that the presence of PTSD was "significantly" associated with major depressive episodes (7.18%) and suicidal ideation (4.32%) among those who didn't use cannabis. Among those who used cannabis, PTSD was not statistically associated (less than 0.5%) with depressive episodes or suicidal ideation.
The study's authors concluded that their research showed "preliminary" evidence of cannabis use reducing depression and suicidal thoughts in people suffering from PTSD, though more research is needed.
Michael J. Milloy, one of the authors on the study, told Medical News Today he believes the findings are promising, and "merit further study in order to fully understand the benefits of cannabis for people living with PTSD."