Treating a psychiatric or personality disorder can be isolating and frustrating. The commonly prescribed medications on the market claim to level mood and help with impulse control. In the case of bipolar disorder, these mood-stabilizing medications aim to target the extreme highs of mania or the severe lows of depressions. Without medication, managing bipolar disorder can seem impossible— like navigating a storm in a dense fog. But research on cannabis might offer brighter news for those dealing with it. Since medical weed has gained acceptance, it has played a critical role in managing other disorders, like borderline personality disorder. But what about when dealing with the teeter-totter of mania and depression seen in bipolar disorder? It’s an important question for both doctors and bipolar patients when they decide on treatment. Can you treat bipolar disorder with medical marijuana?
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that affects many. In fact, almost 2.6% of all Americans have bipolar disorder. And according to the National Institute of Health, that number keeps on getting higher.
To put it simply, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by intense depressive lows and manic highs. These mood changes can be disabling, often manifesting at unpredictable times. Not only that, but patients with this disorder can suffer from forms of psychosis, like hallucinations or delusions.
The options to treat this disorder continue to expand for those riding these emotional waves. Alongside talk therapy, doctors prescribe antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety drugs as treatment.
But these drugs can cause an array of bummer side effects that would change anyone’s mood, whether they have bipolar or not. Few people want to deal with weight gain from lithium or reduced sex drive from anti-depressants.
So the question remains. Can you treat bipolar disorder with medical marijuana? Research still needs some agreement on the subject. Like the disorder itself, the medical community swings between two answers: yes and no.
The Dark Side of Medical Marijuana for Bipolar Disorder
Let’s face it. Even those who don’t have to deal with bipolar disorder can experience a bad high. Pair that with the feelings and thoughts that those with bipolar disorder deal with, and you’ve got a dangerous combination.
Unfortunately for many, the risk of treating with weed may outweigh the good it can do.
In a 2015 study, scientists found that mania and depression symptoms could actually worsen if weed became part of a treatment plan. Moreover, the study found smoking a J or munching on an edible could actually bring on a manic episode that may not have been present before treating with weed.
While exacerbation of symptoms definitely might deter many from toking to treat bipolar, the reaction could be dependent on the individual and his/her tolerance.
Nevertheless, other studies have found a major side effects of treating bipolar with green. This 2015 study discovered an increased rate of attempted suicide in those with bipolar who consumed pot. The threat of these negative thoughts may be enough for anyone to lay down the pipe and seek other medications.
But even more so, studies have linked early onset bipolar disorder in younger people who use weed. And this news is alarming. Doctors have found that the earlier someone is diagnosed, the symptoms one experiences can be worse than in those who are diagnosed later.
Despite this, the research isn’t exactly conclusive. Though those diagnosed earlier on may own up to weed use, this may not be the reason for their earlier diagnosis.
Additionally, research keeps finding medical green works to treat the effects bipolar disorder for many, showing that answer may be yes to the question can you treat bipolar disorder with medical marijuana.
The Light Side of Medical Marijuana for Bipolar Disorder
Weed has been used to treat many psychiatric issues, like eating disorders. But for others, the answer is unclear both medically and with the law.
Addressing an child’s anxiety with medical weed may not yet be legally advised.
But for an informed and safe adult, weed might be just the miracle to handle the rollercoaster of bipolar disorder.
In one study, research concluded that pot could help the general demeanor of a bipolar patient. The study did not look at if the user used weed when experiencing the swings of bipolar.
Because it did not focus on the how, when and why the person treated with weed, it is impossible to know when weed was doing the medical work.
Often the subjects treat with other drugs. This factor can cloud the data. Also, this study was carried out on a small group of 24 people. A higher population might give a more impressive result, depending on the group that is studied.
But still, other research may show the positive effect of the plant. In one, those with bipolar disorder reported their mood swings and symptoms cleared up short-term when they regularly enjoyed ganja. And despite the dark side of the research, the study actually concluded that medical weed didn’t cause other negative effects.
In another study, users of medical green actually reported a more positive outlook and more favorable attitude.
As you can see, the scientific community swings from one conclusion to another when it comes to treating bipolar disorder with weed. But with more research, treating with medical green for other disorders may become common.
Only then will we know for sure if medical weed can help a bipolar patient handle emotional highs and lows.
Final Hit: Can You Treat Bipolar Disorder with Medical Marijuana?
Finding the right treatment plan for any illness requires an open and honest discussion with your doctor. Involving them will help make sure whatever you choose for treatment will work for you and not have any other consequences.
Even still, research on the question can you treat bipolar disorder with medical marijuana continues to grow. Though the world is itself bipolar on the topic, it shows promise.
And though it can be hard to see the brighter side when dealing with this illness, that’s certainly something to be positive about.