Cannabis reduces symptoms in a patient with severe post-traumatic stress disorder
Symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress disorder in a young man were significantly improved following self-treatment with cannabis, according to a case report from the Department of Psychiatry of Hannover Medical School, Germany. From about the age of four, the patient was a victim of long-time sadistic sexual abuse by his father and paternal uncle, which continued until age 15 when he attempted to commit suicide for the second time.
The authors of the report first saw the patient several years later when he was admitted to the psychiatric department for safety and stabilization during a crisis with severe, uncontrolled flashbacks, panic attacks, and impulses for self-mutilation. These had resulted in severe self-injury in the past (mainly lacerations from cutting with knives). After a few days of treatment and stabilization he was referred back to the inpatient psychotherapy treatment centre. In the following weeks his condition improved dramatically. When he was asked what his idea was about the improvement of his condition, he confessed that he had learned to smoke cannabis resin from some other inpatients. He had discovered that he could prevent dissociative states by smoking cannabis when he first felt reactivation and intensification of traumatic memories experienced as flashbacks. Although he still experienced flashback phenomena after the use of cannabis, it alters their course and intensity. Authors conducted a review on the issue and concluded: “Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and antidepressive effects.”
Passie T, Emrich HM, Karst M, Brandt SD, Halpern JH. Mitigation of post-traumatic stress symptoms by Cannabis resin: A review of the clinical and neurobiological evidence. Drug Test Anal. 2012 Jun 26.[in press]