Benefits of Cannabis for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a complicated mental syndrome that influences a person’s social, cognitive, and emotional behavior. According to scientific research, it is estimated that this psychiatric disorder affects approximately 1.1% of the world’s population above 18 years of age. This implies that schizophrenia affects almost 51 million people around the world.
Schizophrenia is also a lifelong and severe condition that disconnects an individual from reality. It is sometimes referred to as a split personality disorder that affects more men than women. Several factors play significant roles in aggravating the symptoms of schizophrenia such as genetic parameters, social and physiological processes, early environment, neurobiology, and many more.
Furthermore, some drugs also contribute a small percentage which worsens the condition of the patient over time.
What Exactly is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric and complex medical condition that is usually characterized by an individual’s emotions, behavior, thought processes, and much more.
Nowadays, schizophrenia is portrayed in popular culture and media like televisions series or movies. It is often represented by a severe explosion of violent behavior as well as split personalities. While these schizophrenic symptoms may affect a few patients, the portrayal of schizophrenia by the media is not an exact representation of the condition in general.
Causes of Schizophrenia
The exact causes of this condition are not known. Nevertheless, several factors heighten the risk of becoming schizophrenic, which include:
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Structural difference in the brain
- Complications arising from pregnancy and birth
- Drug abuse
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is depicted by several symptoms, and these symptoms are divided into three categories:
- Positive symptoms
- Negative symptoms
- Movement disorders (usually characterized by nervous or restless movements, etc.)
Positive symptoms involve behaviors that relate to psychosis which is not often observed in healthy individuals. In most cases, these symptoms cause a person with schizophrenia to disconnect from reality. They usually respond positively to medication, and typical examples of these symptoms are delusions, hallucinations, movement disorders, illogical or unusual ways of thinking.
Negative schizophrenic symptoms affect a person’s behavior and emotions. In most cases, these symptoms are believed to have profound behavioral and emotional discrepancies which healthy people do not portray. In most cases, these negative symptoms are difficult to deal with via the use of medication.
Examples of negative symptoms are:
- Reduced speaking
- Having difficulty in starting and finishing tasks or activities
- A reduced capacity to obtain pleasure from delightful activities
- Decreasing emotions of pleasure
- Reduced facial expressions, the tone of voice, etc.
This is often referred to as disorganized symptoms, and they mostly interrupt the thought processes of a patient with schizophrenia. These cognitive symptoms vary from subtle to severe or extreme, depending on the individual. Examples of these symptoms are as follows:
- Having difficulty in focusing
- Loss of ability to make use of information immediately after acquiring it
- Reduced ability to make decisions and understand information
The Relationship Between Cannabis and Schizophrenia
Despite being one of the most controversial drugs in the United States as well as other parts of the world, cannabis is at the forefront of scientific studies aimed at discovering its relationship with psychiatric disorders.
As stated by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2015, about 22.2 million individuals had used cannabis just the previous month. This appears to corroborate the results of research performed by the World’s Psychiatric Institution that the use of cannabis during teenage years could lead to the development of schizophrenia in later years.
How Can Cannabis Help with Schizophrenia?
According to research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, there is evidence that shows that cannabidiol which is one of the primary constituents of cannabis, has beneficial effects when used as adjunctive therapy for treating patients with schizophrenia.
Although the exact mechanism of the action of cannabidiol remains unclear, it seems that it doesn’t have any dire effects on dopamine receptors in the human brain. The research was led by Philip McGuire, FMedSci., of King’s College London.
The fact that people with schizophrenia have shown signs of clinical improvement in positive psychotic symptoms after undergoing treatment with cannabidiol is encouraging. Cannabidiol, which is a component of cannabis is believed to lessen the effect the THC (tetrahydro cannabidiol) as indicated by an industry-funded phase 2 research.
Research is still ongoing in a bid to establish how THC, the principal psychoactive compound present in cannabis affects people with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, cannabis continues to receive lots of attention for its use in the treatment and management of people with schizophrenia.