Bipolar disorder and marijuana are both active topics of discussion. Both are still being studied on scientific and medical levels. Mixing the two in an attempt to treat bipolar disorder with marijuana is dangerous. Despite the risks, many people who suffer from the disorder justify their use of marijuana as medicinal. Can the drug treat the disorder? First, we must understand bipolar.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation describes bipolar as “a brain and behavior disorder.” For many, it’s characterized by severe shifts in mood and energy, shifts that make it difficult to function. Bipolar affects more than 2.6 percent of Americans (that’s 5.7 million people) age 18 or older.
People with bipolar disorder can wake up either extremely depressed or manic with no warning. Symptoms of depression may result in a person feeling very tired or sick. They can lose all sense of self-worth. They might feel guilty or sad for no reason, and thoughts of suicide may cross their mind.
Manic bipolar disorder can result in an elevated mood with intense irritation. It can also trigger increased energy, uncontrolled speech, hallucinations, and substance abuse.
Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder
You probably know that marijuana is a depressant, which means it has a slowing effect on the body. For a person suffering from depression caused by bipolar disorder, a depressant would only increase problematic symptoms. Marijuana use shares similar traits of a depressive episode, such as fatigue, mental fog, and numbness. It can intensify the negative symptoms of bipolar disorder. It can even increase suicidal thoughts and tendencies. But what if a person suffers from manic bipolar depression?
Manic bipolar depression is the opposite of depression. During a manic fit, a person experiences unexplained energy, racing thoughts, and the inability to sleep. Could marijuana treat bipolar disorder in such cases? While it is a depressant and could slow symptoms, it’s also highly addictive. The body can quickly develop a dependence. Substance addiction can soon follow. And that’s now the only risk.
Although it’s not yet proven, some studies show that marijuana can cause the same symptoms and hallucinations as certain psychological disorders. Cannabis could, therefore, make a disorder worse. Some with bipolar who smoke marijuana reported that it worsened their depression, keeping them in that state for days.
Marijuana as a Bipolar Treatment
How you choose to treat bipolar disorder matters. The use of marijuana is not recommended. It’s also not approved on most medical levels.
Bipolar fits are either manic or depressive. Marijuana could calm a manic fit, but not without great health risks. The drug would worsen a depressive episode and could even cause an one.
People affected by bipolar often experience both types of fits without warning. Some potential causes of such fits are still unknown, though. Choosing to treat bipolar disorder with marijuana is a gamble. And it’s a gamble with a price. Everyone’s body reacts to substances differently. The body can react to the same substance differently at different times, too. A person having a manic day who tries marijuana and sees benefit cannot count on continued benefit. Plus, using weed could trigger or increase the risk of developing a dangerous substance addiction.
Don’t risk it. Choose to treat bipolar disorder with the help of your doctor, not by self-medicating with marijuana.