Cannabis for Bipolar Disorder Mood Swings
Bipolar disorder is one of the most common mental disorders; in fact you probably might not be aware of several people in your circle with this condition. It affects around 5.7 million adults in the United States. Also known as manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is characterized by unusual changes in one’s mood, activity levels, and energy thus affecting their ability to carry out even the most mundane daily tasks. A person who has bipolar disorder can easily go from depressed to excited; the extreme shifts in energy can be difficult for the patient to manage alone without treatment.
When patients go into a manic episode also referred to as an emotional high, they tend to get impulsive, feel excited, and full of energy. This often leads them to get into self-destructive habits such as going on drinking binges, drug use, spending sprees, and unprotected sex. On the other hand when they get into an emotional low, they feel hopelessness, loss of energy, a deep sadness, lack of interest in activities that they enjoyed in the past, or go into periods of either too much or too little sleep.
There are different types of bipolar disorder based on the severity and frequency of episodes. Bipolar disorder has no cure, but doctors prescribe treatments to help treat or manage symptoms. These include a range or combination of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines; these often have debilitating side effects such as trembling, nausea, diarrhea, increased thirst, weight gain, and drowsiness. In fact, lithium, one of the most popularly prescribed medications for bipolar disorder, is a mood stabilizer that is known to cause chronic renal failure. Doctors may also prescribe cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, lifestyle changes, and other forms of therapy together with medications.
More people are beginning to see the value of using cannabis as treatment for bipolar disorder.
How Can Cannabis Help?
Integrating cannabis into your lifestyle can be a big help if you are suffering from bipolar or manic depressive disorder. Cannabis can help you effectively and safely manage symptoms without the harmful side effects.
A recent study in 2016 published in the PLOS ONE journal set out to analyze the effect of cannabis use and bipolar disorder on the pateint’s mood and cognitive function. The researchers found no significant differences in cognitive function among bipolar patients who used cannabis versus those who didn’t although they noted that patients who regularly consumed cannabis had prominent reductions in mood symptoms whenever they used cannabis. They also showed promising results especially in terms of the plant’s effect to stabilize patients’ moods, at least in some of the participants.
A 2012 study analyzed the clinical and cognitive outcomes of bipolar 1 patients who used cannabis. The study’s objective was to compare both clinical and neurocognitive measures in patients with bipolar disorder who used cannabis in the past, versus those who didn’t. The researchers compared two groups of patients based on clinical and demographic variables while also analyzing their performance on neurocognitive tests. The results revealed that patients with a history of cannabis use showed significantly better results on tests that measured attention, processing speed, as well as working memory.
In 2005, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study conducted by a team of researchers who set out to understand the therapeutic benefits that cannabinoids played in treating bipolar disorder. The findings saw that prescription medications have a poor effect on bipolar disorder, and the team of researchers wanted to understand if using medical cannabis had any positive health benefits. They studied the neuropharmacological properties of cannabinoids and analyzed it with cannabis use of patients with bipolar disorder; anecdotal reports showed that some patients use cannabis to obtain relief from both the depressive and manic symptoms of the condition, concluding that cannabis does have positive therapeutic benefits. In particular, the study found that the cannabinoids THC and CBD “may exert sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects. Pure synthetic cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone and specific plant extracts containing THC, CBD, or a mixture of the two in known concentrations, are available and can be delivered sublingually. Controlled trials of these cannabinoids as adjunctive medication in bipolar disorder are now indicated.”
A 1998 article written by Dr. Lester Greenspoon and published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs revealed that patients found that bipolar patients found great relief in using cannabis as a treatment option. Dr. Grinspoon however said that more research is needed on the use of medical cannabis as treatment for mental disorders until we can fully know the extent of its efficacy.
While studies on cannabis and its impact on mental disorders are few and far in betwee, the findings are significant. Do you know anyone who has successfully used cannabis to help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder? Share with us in the comments below!