What Is Bipolar Disorder?
You might think of bipolar disorder as just another way to say someone is moody, but actually, it’s a serious disorder that affects the lives of those living with it in more ways than just a sour mood. Patients with bipolar disorder suffer from a number of symptoms that are categorized into manic symptoms and depressive ones.
- Mania and hypomania-patients deal with a rush of inextinguishable energy, inability to sleep, risk-taking behaviour, irritability, inflated sense of self, rapid thoughts, and rapid speech.
- Depression- patients sleep more, have feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, may cease activities they previously enjoyed, can’t feel the same fulfillment they once did, and even experience suicidal ideation.
Typically these symptoms begin in early adulthood and will continue for their entire lifespan. Treatments include pharmaceutical medications and therapy, but a wide range of patients are also medicating with cannabis.
What Can Cannabis Do?
Go on any strain description website and you’ll find multiple entries claiming this or that cannabis to be good for bipolar disorder. There aren’t many studies in the area, however, and although there are plenty of people out there using cannabis to ease their bipolar symptoms, it hasn’t been proven clinically as a treatment.
One 2015 study suggests that cannabis use increases depressive and manic symptoms. However, this study was done with no control group, a small sample size (only twenty-four patients) and with all the data being self-reported by participants. In addition, there was no control of how much THC/CBD was being consumed. All in all a fear-tactic study more than any actual scientific research.
A more in-depth study done on a group of two hundred bipolar subjects found that cannabis increased cognitive function. Since bipolar individuals have a heightened rate of forgetfulness and brain fog this was an incredible discovery. Still, the study wasn’t done in enough detail (no THC/CBD consistency etc.) for the cannabis community to really latch on.
The most convincing evidence comes from a study conducted in 2005 which they monitored both THC and CBD and their effect on psychosis. The findings indicated that CBD especially was an effective treatment. Since bipolar patients sometimes experience psychosis this is excellent news. CBD has been found to treat epilepsy as well, and bipolar disorder responds to epileptic medication. This may imply a benefit for bipolar patients.
To Medicate Or Not To Medicate?
We really don’t know if cannabis is an effective treatment for bipolar disorder, even though anecdotal evidence shows patients getting relief from it. Unfortunately, word of mouth is still the most prominent method of cannabis education, with actual, well-conducted studies being a rarity. If you suffer from bipolar disorder all you can do is go off of your own experiences. Everyone reacts to cannabis a little differently, so do what works for you. And as always, read your research, with legalization occurring in Canada and all over the US, there’s sure to be more evidence emerging soon.