Bipolar disorder, a mental health issue responsible for extreme mood swings, can be very unpredictable. Sufferers experience a range of emotions ranging from low, depressive moods to high, manic episodes, and many self-medicate with weed delivery. However, is cannabis helpful for bipolar disorder, or does it worsen the condition? Some studies suggest avoiding it if you have bipolar; others recommend it.
Living with Bipolar Disorder
Those suffering with bipolar disorder might have other symptoms too, particularly those resembling psychosis. These include delusions, where patients believe facts that simply are not true, and hallucinations, where one hears or sees things that frankly are not there. The emotional rollercoaster of this condition can affect day-to-day life significantly, reducing the ability to function and live normally.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition. Patients are only able to manage their extreme mood changes and other symptoms with therapy and prescription drugs, both standard treatment for bipolar disorder. Research continues into finding more ways to cope effectively with the issue and treat it. These studies include the use of medical marijuana.
Understanding Cannabis Therapy
Before typing “weed delivery near me” into your favorite search engine, it is wise to do your homework first. Cannabis contains different cannabinoids, many of them, which include delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in weed that makes you feel “high.” Not all cannabinoids are psychoactive. They will not all make you stoned.
Despite its federal illegality, or legality in some states, scientists are discovering the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids. Studies prove them capable of relieving various mild to severe symptoms, particularly in those with chronic illnesses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, totes cannabis as effective medicine for inflammation, pain, muscular issues, appetite problems, nausea, and much, much more.
Already, cannabinoid-based medications are available for certain diseases, which contain extracts of specific cannabinoids without including THC. These, such as Marinol and Epidiolex, used for treating cancer and epilepsy respectively, do not make patients “high.” Instead, they regulate appetite; reduce pain, control nausea, and even lower intensity and frequency of epileptic and spasmodic episodes.
Using cannabis on its own, whether inhaled or ingested, might help relieve the symptoms of many conditions, improving life for millions of patients worldwide. However, when it comes to bipolar disorder, the science is contradictory. Research inconclusive. THC is famous for triggering anxiety, depression, and other bipolar-like symptoms in users, particularly in high doses.
Benefits of Cannabis in Bipolar Treatment
However, in responsible doses, or in THC-free cannabinoid extracts, marijuana proves immensely promising for those with bipolar disorder. According to Healthline, it actually relieves anxiety when used correctly, improving mood significantly, even for those enduring this condition. Studies find marijuana causes no harmful side effects, with some studies finding proven benefits, such as these:
Stable Mood and Little Impairment
According to the Public Library of Science, a 2016 study found patients with bipolar disorder did not experience notable mental impairment after using cannabis compared to those sufferers who did not partake in cannabis use. Many accuse weed of altering memory and thinking, which the study debunked. Further, patients had fewer mood swings, felt more stable, after using marijuana.
Enhanced Mood and Optimism
A 2015 study published in the Public Library of Science found marijuana boosting optimism and improving mood in bipolar patients. They are happier than their non-toking counterparts are. However, the study’s authors noted that they were more likely to use cannabis on a good day, during heightened mood, than when they had more severe symptoms. The team also claimed these results preliminary.
Some studies found some negative effects of using marijuana on some bipolar patients, not all. In fact, THC-rich marijuana might actually make symptoms worse for some. A 2015 review in Science Direct shows cannabis worsening manic symptoms, actually triggering manic episodes, as well as increasing depressive symptoms in some sufferers. Strains with little to no THC do not have these effects.
What is more, some research suggests that folks who use marijuana typically receive a bipolar diagnosis at a younger age than non-users. They notice symptoms earlier. This is concerning for doctors, many of whom think that onset at an earlier age might cause symptoms to be worse than if diagnosed later, and that the symptoms are themselves worse during the patient’s life. Again, these effects link to THC.
Effect of Genetics on Bipolar Disorder
Research also shows marijuana affects folks differently according to their genes. As NIDA explains, those carrying specific genetic types have a higher predisposition toward psychosis. For example, those with a certain variation of the AKT1 gene are at higher risk of developing psychosis, and even more so if they consume cannabis.
Further, the risk of psychosis from adolescent use increases with a variation in the gene responsible for controlling catechol-O-methyltransferase, or COMT, a specific enzyme. If you are considering cannabis therapy for bipolar disorder, then it is imperative that you discuss this at length with your doctor. He or she could possibly test for these genetic variations, perhaps even some others too.
Research is minimal at this point. More studies are underway, and scientists are discovering more potential therapeutic uses for cannabis. For bipolar sufferers, some enjoy improved mood and clarity of thought. For others, mania and depression worsens, with some even feeling suicidal. It is important to use the right strains. Avoid any with THC if you are treating bipolar. Rather use cannabidiol, or CBD.