Cannabis and Bipolar Disorder – What You Need to Know
3 Sep 2019
Affecting millions of people worldwide is a Disorder that you rarely see in the limelight, despite how devastating it can be. Causing the death of over 30% of its sufferers via suicide, Bipolar Disorder is no laughing matter. For decades, people have searched for a cure, or at least a way to ease the suffering of its victims, but to little success. Now with CBD becoming legalized in more places around the world, it’s time to take a close look at cannabis and Bipolar.
Bipolar Disorder comes in two variants, Bipolar 1 and 2, which we will talk about more later. Normally, this disorder is treated with pharmaceuticals and medications upon medications. For some people this is a solution, it eases their symptoms. But for others, they can find themselves on nearly a dozen medications with no real relief.
Then we have Cannabis, a plant used for millennia for its medicinal properties. Have people with this disorder tried cannabis to treat their symptoms? If so what kind of effect can be expected? Are there any alternatives to typical pharmaceuticals? We are going to be examining each of these questions so that if you are a loved one suffers from Bipolar Disorder, you’ll have the information you need to know if marijuana is a good fit for possible treatment.
First, in order to truly begin, we need to define a few things, such as what Bipolar Disorder actually is and what cannabis is and how it is used by those with the disorder. So let’s start with the disorder itself.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
According to the National Institute of Health, Bipolar is defined as the following:
“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
In layman’s terms, Bipolar Disorder is where the individual can’t control their emotions, and they change drastically either hourly, daily, weekly or even monthly.
Now, despite what many people think, being Bipolar is not going from sad to happy and back and forth. The phases in Bipolar 1 (we will discuss the difference between 1 and 2 shortly) are manic and depressed. Manic is being so elated and almost feeling high. You have racing thoughts and can’t control yourself, emotion wise or just in general. It makes it hard to do anything.
On the other side of the coin, you have the depressive phase, which can range from being sad, to majorly depressed and suicidal. This isn’t to say you can’t be suicidal during a manic phase. In fact, that is very possible and more dangerous even, as the individual has the energy and drive to go through with their likely spur of the moment plan.
The depressive side of the coin is where you’re going to see the following:
- Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless
- Have very little energy
- Experience decreased activity levels
- Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much
- Feel like they can’t enjoy anything
- Feel worried and empty
- Have trouble concentrating
- Forget things a lot
- Eat too much or too little
- Feel tired or “slowed down”
- Think about death or suicide
As can be seen, a depressive phase is not something people look forward to experiencing. While being manic is not something that is wished for either, it is often the better side for Bipolar people.
The Difference Between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2
The main difference between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 lies in the severity of the disorder.
Bipolar 1 is more severe and is when a person may be prone to full manic episodes. This means the symptoms exhibited represent a full-blown manic episode.
Now where Bipolar 2 comes in, you may have what is called a hypomanic phase with depressive symptoms, which is not considered as severe as a manic episode. Being hypomanic is like being manic but on a smaller scale, and is less dangerous to the individual. But many of the same things are felt, it’s just at a different level of severity.
Those are the main differences between Bipolar 1 and 2. Manic vs. HypoManic. The rest of the symptoms mirror each other very closely.
Cannabis and Bipolar Disorders
Before we get into the use of Cannabis with Bipolar disorders, let’s first give a general run down of what Cannabis is, why it makes you high, and what are its medical benefits.
THC and CDB – The Difference
Ok! So what is cannabis? A cannabis (or marijuana) plant has over 483 cannabinoids, with only two of them being the main active ingredient, THC and CBD. A cannabinoid is a chemical compound found in almost everything, including you! THC is a psychoactive ingredient, meaning this is what makes you “high”. Then there is CBD, which does not make you high, and has many medical benefits such as in these health areas:
- Cancer Fighting Abilities
- Drug Addiction
- Neurological Disorders
- Care for broken bones
- Liver Protection
And that is the short list of things that CBD can help with! THC has medicinal properties as well, but most of the medical studies are on the benefits of CBD, offering relief without the high.
CBD and THC can come in a variety of forms, the flowers to smoke, edibles to eat, vapes to vape and so much more. You don’t have to smoke cannabis anymore to get the health benefits, a fact that is quickly becoming widely known.
How Cannabis Works on the Human Endocannabinoid System
But how does this all work? Well, remember we said that you had cannabinoids in your system? Well, you sure do! They are located in what’s called the Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for various major bodily functions. We can get into that more in another article, but the point is there are receptors in the brain that are conducive to taking in cannabinoid chemicals. So all that you are doing is adding specific kinds into a system that already exists. And there you have it! A very brief description of what cannabis is and how it works.
So how do these two relate? Well, we are going to discuss how CBD can help those with Bipolar disorder. It may be surprising to learn how strong an effect something can have on someone so emotionally unregulated. But immensely help it does. Of course, everyone is different and the way CBD works may be different depending on the person. Still, there are general beneficial effects from CBD that provide relief for those with Bipolar disorder 1 or 2.
How does CBD help with Bipolar Disorder?
CBD helps those with Bipolar Disorder by helping to regulate moods and emotions. The calming effects of CBD also help those with Bipolar Disorder.
Regulating mood and emotions is another big aspect of why CBD can be used by Bipolar patients. A limited amount of studies have established this, and the future is very bright for CBD medications, not just for BiPolar, but for a range of conditions.
Now you have learned about the connection between cannabis and Bipolar disorder is. With federal legalization in Canada and looming in the US, now is the time to work together to create a system of help for patients who have Bipolar disorder. For centuries, cannabis has been used as a medicinal herb. With a changing public acceptance and perception of cannabis, help is coming soon to those suffering from Bipolar.
The future looks very bright for CBD as we discover more and more about the chemical compound. Finally, various countries around the world are now allowing medications to be made using CBD, something that never would have happened even 5 years ago. CBD sure is an amazing compound and has so much more to show us. For now, we will just have to remain in awe of this miracle chemical.