According to Mental Health America, approximately 1 in every 40 adults in America live with bipolar disorder, which is about 40 million people. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. There is no real known exact cause of bipolar disorder, although it does tend to run in families and may stem from a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
People with bipolar disorder experience shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. Bipolar disorder causes manic episodes where people feel energized and elated for periods of time, and then they have depressive episodes where they can feel sad, hopeless, or indifferent. During manic episodes, people may experience racing thoughts, increased talkativeness, less need for sleep, and impulsive, reckless behavior. It can be an extreme shift between these two types of episodes.
Bipolar disorder can also cause delusions and hallucinations. Many people with bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, or other conditions. It is also possible to have these diagnoses along with bipolar disorder. There are different types of bipolar disorder depending on the severity and duration of episodes.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
The most common treatment for bipolar disorder include psychotherapy and pharmaceutical medications, which are recognized as the conventional method necessary to help regulate moods. Many patients, however, do not find relief from pharmaceutical medications that someone may develop a tolerance to and come with undesirable side effects.
Many people turn to cannabis which is currently being explored for benefits or negative effects on people with bipolar disorder. Cannabis can be a safer, more natural alternative, depending on how one consumes cannabis and the specific cannabinoids involved with medical marijuana treatment.
Cannabis for Bipolar Disorder
One study published in Eurekalert.org focused on treating mood disorders with psychoactive drugs and found that chronic cannabis use in people with bipolar disorder was associated with a modest improvement in some cognitive functions. Researchers also concluded that cannabis was associated with increased motivation and reduced risky decision-making in people with bipolar disorder.
The cannabis plant contains hundreds of chemical compounds; the most well-known and studied cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), although other lesser-known cannabinoids are gaining in popularity and proving to have many beneficial effects for certain conditions. Other cannabinoids, such as Cannabinol (CBN) and Cannabigerol (CBG), are being researched with promising results for helping to alleviate pain, and inflammation, helping to induce sleep, and even stopping or slowing the growth of certain cancer cells.
THC is the cannabinoid responsible for making someone feel “high” and producing psychoactive effects. Other cannabinoids like CBD and CBG do not produce any type of psychoactive effect, although they provide physiological effects mentioned above like pain relief and anti-inflammatory and act as a sleep aid.
A review posted by the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) which reviewed the effects of marijuana on mental health, particularly bipolar disorder, found that CBD, as a nonintoxicating cannabinoid, did appear to have pharmacological benefits regarding anxiety, depression, addiction, and schizophrenia. This study also suggests that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to self-medicate with marijuana to potentially manage manic and depressive symptoms.
People that live with bipolar disorder should discuss the use of cannabis with their physician if they live in a state where medical marijuana is legalized, although bipolar disorder alone may not typically be a condition to qualify for medical marijuana. It is important to choose the right type of cannabis with a concentration of cannabinoids that would be most beneficial to manage your condition. Some studies suggest that marijuana use can negatively affect bipolar disorder, such as causing longer or more severe manic episodes or increasing suicidal thoughts. The cannabis plant has many healing properties when used correctly, and not every strain provides the same physiological or psychological effects.
As more research is being done, studies are showing that patients with bipolar disorder who smoke marijuana regularly report short-term clinical alleviation of symptoms following cannabis use which indicates potential mood-stabilizing properties for a subset of bipolar disorder patients. And despite some studies showing a negative impact on cognition, marijuana use may not actually result in any additional impairment. Further research is warranted on the impact of cannabis on mood in both clinical and non-clinical populations.
If you are fortunate enough to grow your own medicine, experiment with the strains and cannabinoids most likely to provide you the relief you seek. Remember that quality plants start with quality seeds and always grow with high-quality seeds from a reputable source.
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