Supporting mental health during these times – can medical cannabis help?

In recent years and especially during the pandemic, more and more people are speaking openly about their mental health and seeking support. The NHS reports that 2,878,636 people got in contact with mental health services between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020. That shows just how many people are in need of care and treatment when it comes to mental health.

The silver lining of COVID-19 is the way that it has helped to improve mental health awareness by shedding light on all of the existing mental health problems that so many of us face: anxiety, depression, PTSD, and insomnia being some of the most common complaints. Social distancing and prolonged loneliness have brought all of these conditions to the fore for many people. The lack of family and friends has removed the support systems for thousands of people, leaving them vulnerable. So what can be used to help people manage the symptoms of these mental health conditions?

How can medical cannabis improve mental health?

When used in line with advice from a qualified doctor, medical cannabis has been proven to help those suffering from a variety of mental health conditions. According to Dr Anup Mathew, Psychiatric Consultant at The Medical Cannabis Clinics, use of medical cannabis can be a lifesaver for vulnerable patients.

“Medical cannabis in the UK is life-changing treatment for patients with a wide range of conditions that not only eliminates the suffering and despair they experience from their illness, but also reduces the UK’s significant health burden,” explains Dr Mathew. 

“The scientific evidence has always been supportive, however nothing is as powerful as hearing and seeing the direct positive impact medical cannabis treatment has had for patients. 

“This is further magnified when the vast majority of patients reveal no side-effect profile or dependency concerns for medical cannabis compared to standard pharmacological treatments. It is a privilege to be part of the UK’s medical cannabis revolution in view of establishing it as a primary treatment option for so many chronic and enduring mental health conditions.” 

Many patients at The Medical Cannabis Clinics can also personally testify to the positive effects of their prescription, carefully created specifically for them with their own needs in mind.

Can medical cannabis help reduce anxiety?

Illustration of a woman in a highly anxious state of mind

A Canadian study from 2019 showed that lower doses of cannabinoids, present in medical cannabis, helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, by helping to promote feelings of relaxation and lowering the heart rate. 

The results also speak for themselves. Lottie Robert, a 25-year-old legal assistant had anxiety that was affecting her life in many areas. After using medical cannabis for a year and a half, she had this to say: “I have anxiety which used to limit the things I do, places I went and stopped me sleeping every evening.  Since starting medicinal cannabis treatment, I have managed my condition naturally, without supplementing any prescription drugs at all. I am more confident and capable – I am in control of my anxiety, it no longer controls my every-day. I am a better person, employee and friend with my new treatment. I truly have my life back.”

Can medical cannabis help with stress or depression?

In the same way that medical cannabis has been shown to help with anxiety, it also helps to combat the negative feelings associated with stress and depression. Where traditional treatments have let down some of our patients, medical cannabis alone has shown to have a positive effect.

In the case of this patient, medical cannabis has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for treatment, after just two months of using it. 

“I have been clinically depressed for the last 25 years,” they said. “Medical cannabis has calmed me down, I don’t cry as often as I used to. I’m still down sometimes but I’m in a calmer place to think things through. It also helps me sleep longer instead of a few hours where I wake up exhausted. I truly believe it is helping me.”

Can medical cannabis help improve PTSD?

Many of the symptoms of PTSD can become overwhelming. Medical cannabis can be a useful aid to help manage those symptoms so people suffering from the condition can continue to lead fulfilling and happy lives.

Hear from one of our patients, 30-year-old Christopher James McBard, a horticulturist and garden designer, who has taken medical cannabis for a full year. for his PTSD: “It brings me down from my usual state of hyper-awareness where I’d usually live in constant alert of anxiety and paranoia. With cannabis, I am able to recognise my triggers and relax in a way I cannot without. It has allowed me to get back to work and better my life significantly.”

Can medical cannabis help those suffering from insomnia?

Man struggling to get to sleep looking at the time on his bedside clock

An American study from 2019 showed that the use of CBD improved the sleep in the majority of patients who were experiencing insomnia. This stems from CBD’s calming effects on the nervous system, helping patients drift off into a restful sleep.

Warehouse manager, Mark, 57, has been taking medical cannabis for 7-12 months.

“Before taking my first prescription, I was lucky to get two to three hours of sleep a night,” Mark explains. “This has increased to five to six hours of sleep, sometimes unbroken. This hasn’t happened for well over 10 years. It has also alleviated bad moods and tiredness in the mornings.  Medical cannabis has had a really positive impact on my life.”

Ultimately, medical cannabis can act as a useful tool alongside other forms of treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. It’s vital that we continue to promote mental health awareness and explore all avenues of treatment available to us.