It is becoming clear that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not simply a psychiatric disorder, but one that involves pervasive physiological impairments as well. These physiological disturbances deserve attention in any attempt at integrative treatment of PTSD that requires a focus beyond the PTSD symptoms themselves. The physiological disturbances in PTSD range over many systems, but a common thread thought to underlie them is that the chronic effects of PTSD involve problems with allostatic control mechanisms that result in an excess in what has been termed “allostatic load” (AL). A pharmacological approach to reducing AL would be valuable, but, because of the large range of physiological issues involved – including metabolic, inflammatory, and cardiovascular systems – it is unclear whether there exists a simple comprehensive way to address the AL landscape. In this paper, we propose that the cannabinoid system may offer just such an approach, and we outline evidence for the potential utility of cannabinoids in reducing many of the chronic physiological abnormalities seen in PTSD which are thought to be related to excess AL.
KEYWORDS: Psychological trauma, allostasis, augmentation, biomarkers, comorbidity, pharmacotherapy, stress disorders, theoretical model
- PMID: 31303187
- DOI: 10.1017/S1092852919001093