Cannabis and Bipolar Disorder
Potential Use for Treatment
Marijuana has been reported to be effective for stabilizing moods in some cases. Anecdotes are available where users report that marijuana helps calm them during manic episodes and also alleviate depression during depressive episodes. However, marijuana is not approved for use. Future research needs to be conducted to assess the efficacy and risks of marijuana use in cases of bipolar disorder.
Potential Cause for Mental Illness
Marijuana use has also been reported as being a potential cause of mental illnesses, including bipolar disorders. Studies have shown a link between marijuana use and mental illness. According to a study discussed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, people who report using marijuana before age 12 have much higher rates of mental illness.
However, it is unknown whether marijuana is a cause in the development of the disorder, or if an extraneous factor can explain the connection.
Potential for Addiction
Marijuana can lead to psychological dependence. It has not shown any major signs of physical dependence, especially to the extreme that other drugs, such as nicotine and heroin, demonstrate. Ceasing marijuana use can lead to the development of depressive symptoms.
However, many pharmaceuticals can also lead to the development of depressive symptoms and other signs of physical and psychological dependence. For example, benzodiazepines (i.e. ,Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan), used to treat anxiety, are linked to a heightened risk of seizures when use is ceased.
The interactions between marijuana and medications typically prescribed for bipolar disorder, including mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, are largely unknown. Other medications used during the treatment of bipolar disorder, such as antianxiety medications and antidepressants, are not clearly shown to have a significant interaction with marijuana.
However, it is possible that marijuana may have a negative effect on the efficacy of medications used for treatment of bipolar disorder. More research is necessary in this area.
Many organizations exist to advocate for the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of bipolar disorder. These include National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (www.norml.org), Americans for Safe Access (www.safeaccessnow.org), and StoptheDrugWar.org.
Many medical doctors are divided on this issue. However, further research should be conducted to discover the benefits and risks of marijuana in the treatment of bipolar disorder.