Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depression. It sees a person’s mood alternate between low depressive and high manic episodes. In the United Kingdom, it affects about two percent of people, male and females equally. More than 30 percent of sufferers commit suicide.

Lithium is often employed i the treatment of bipolar disorder. Photo: James Hellman, MD

Lithium is often employed i the treatment of bipolar disorder. Photo: James Hellman, MD

Changes can be extreme and unpredictable. This can have a drastic effect on someone’s ability to function in day-to-day life. While there’s no cure for bipolar disorder, there are treatments that include prescription drugs and therapy. The best known prescription drug is lithium. Unfortunately, this leaves a third of people who have taken it for more than 10 years with renal failure. One more drug worthy of consideration is cannabis.

Yes, take cannabis for bipolar disorder

Cannabis can relieve anxiety. Hence, some people believe it would improve the mood of people with bipolar disorder. There is research that backs this up. One such study took place in Michigan in 2016. Critics will harp on about how cannabis has a negative impact on a person’s thinking and memory, but this study didn’t find that.

Another study was conducted in Israel in 2015. It also found that using cannabis improved the mood of people with bipolar disorder. Folk were, however, more likely to use it when their mood was good rather than when symptoms were severe. A study by Lancaster University in 2018 with a small sample size of 24 echoed this.

No, wait! Don’t!

A review by the University of Warwick was published in 2015. It discovered that cannabis could worsen the condition of bipolar people. There was one more study, this time in Brazil in 2015. It found that attempted suicide by bipolar sufferers was more widespread among cannabis users. It also found that bipolar sufferers who used cannabis were younger when first struck by the condition. This is an important consideration given that those afflicted at a younger age have worse symptoms. Bipolar usually kicks off around the age of 25.

According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with certain gene types are more prone to psychosis. One example is the AKT1 gene; the risk is greater if the person uses cannabis. In the case of bipolar disorder, it might also be brain structure. Or stress.

CBD good, THC bad

People using cannabis very rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were more likely to have a negative mood response than those using cannabis with lotsa cannabidiol (CBD). This is because THC incites anxiety in some people while CBD lessens it. THC makes you high while CBD doesn’t.

Here endeth

Research into cannabis and bipolar disorder to date has yet to prove the benefits of cannabis in a compelling manner. There is at least no shortage of anecdotes to this effect. But it does appear that cannabis might be key to better natural mental healthcare before too long.

The most famous person to suffer from bipolar disorder was Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher. She wrote of it extensively.

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