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Cannabis & PTSD in Women

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A 2023 Ph.D. dissertation submitted to the University at Albany, State University of New York entitled "PTSD, Cannabis Use, and Expected Symptom Relief: Gender-Moderated Mediational Effects" that was published in the online database ProQuest had the goal of focusing on female PTSD patients who use cannabis for relief.

A woman outside stares at the sky.
Women with PTSD use cannabis

Cannabis & PTSD in Women Research

"Most of the existing research that delves into the correlation between PTSD and cannabis use heavily features male samples. This lack of data from women is alarming given the gender discrepancies in cannabis use and cannabis-related expectancies," reported the dissertation's author.


"Most of the existing research that delves into the correlation between PTSD and cannabis use heavily features male samples."

The dissertation research included a sample of 1370 participants (1100 women and 270 men). Each participant completed a monthly survey that included any potential cannabis-related PTSD symptom relief and their cannabis usage.

A man holds a leaf on a cannabis plant in a large garden.
Does marijuana help PTSD?

Cannabis & PTSD in Women Results

Cannabis & PTSD in Women. As the study's author anticipated, men and women scored differently on each monthly survey. "Moreover, men and women had considerable variations in their expectations for cannabis-induced relief for all [areas] except for alterations in cognition and mood," noted the report.


It reported that women, overall, displayed higher expectations for relief than men. Women's highest expectations were regarding the symptoms of avoidance and numbing, while men expected to gain the most relief for intrusion symptoms.


"The dissertation noted a number of factors that explain the variance in cannabis expectancies between men and women, including PTSD symptom severity and gender."

Factors That Explain the Difference

The dissertation identified a number of factors that explain the variance in cannabis expectancies between men and women. These included PTSD symptom severity, gender, and the interaction between gender and PTSD symptoms.


"Only the main effect of expectancies covaried with the frequency of cannabis use. PTSD symptoms directly affecting cannabis use were significant factors only for women, while the indirect effect was significant for both genders," noted the paper.

A female soldier stares sadly into the camera.
Cannabis for PTSD: Men vs. Women

Cannabis & PTSD in Women Conclusions

Cannabis & PTSD in Women. The dissertation made the following conclusions:


"Although cannabis use frequency did not correlate with PTSD symptomatology, variations in PCL scores and expectations for cannabis-induced symptom relief are crucial for treating PTSD.


"Gender differences in expectations indicate that men and women might benefit from gender-specific interventions that address cannabis use among PTSD patients."

"The expectations for relief from PTSD symptoms via cannabis use suggest that challenging these expectations might help to reduce cannabis use. Additionally, gender differences in these expectations indicate that men and women might benefit from gender-specific interventions that address cannabis use among PTSD patients."


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