Bipolar Disorder and Medical Marijuana

Bipolar disorder or manic depressive disorder is a medical condition characterized by extreme mood swings; where a person oscillates between periods of good and depressed or irritable mood. At times the mood shifts happen quite quickly. This serious mental illness can lead to damage in relationships, career and even academic performance. Sometimes people with this disorder can have suicidal tendencies.

The causes of bipolar disorder vary from person to person, they could be of genetic origins, brain chemical imbalances or physical change, hormonal instability or even environmental factors such as stress and abuse. Traumatic events such as death of a close person, job loss or even the birth of a child have been known to sometimes trigger Bipolar disorder.

Though there is no known cure for the condition, there are a number of treatments or management options for bipolar disorder they include lithium salts, anti-convulsants and anti-psychotics which act by stabilizing mood. Controlled long term use of antidepressant therapies and drugs has also proven to work well in reducing the severe mood swings. New studies, have however revealed that medical marijuana
can greatly relieve the effects of the condition.

Known to benefit a number of health problems ranging from type 2 diabetes to multiple sclerosis and insomnia, a recent research study conducted by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in conjunction with Zucker Hillside Hospital, Long Island has shown that medical marijuana or cannabis can help improve certain neuro-cognitive functions in persons with bipolar disorder. The patients used in the study showed notable and improved performance especially on processing speed, attention aptness and improved memory.

Another study conducted in 2007 by the Louisville University’s school of medicine showed that there was increase in the number of days between any two depressive states in a bipolar patient who used medical marijuana. Though it does not completely address all aspects of Bipolar disorder, it seems that medical cannabis can alleviate and effectively reduce the symptoms of depression experienced by the patients. Because the depression states associated with the condition is what is directly linked to the suicidal tendencies by the patients, the number of attempts or feelings of suicides also greatly went down.

On the contrary these studies also revealed that the hypo-manic behaviors were not only not reduced, but were significantly increased as a result of marijuana use. In such cases where the hypo-manic behaviors have a negative impact, marijuana use is not recommended and alternative treatments should be sought. Mixing of marijuana with other prescribed drugs has shown that it could lead to toxicity, a reduction in the benefits of the drug or sometimes increased effect.

These mixed findings warrants that further research should be done before a concrete answer on how effective the use of marijuana is for treatment of bipolar disorder. If you have any experiences with medical marijuana used specifically for Bipolar we would love for you to share your stories.