Can Marijuana Treat Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder and marijuana

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can cause extreme changes in mood. This includes low, depressive episodes and high, manic episodes. These mood swings can be both extreme and unpredictable.

Someone living with bipolar disorder can also have symptoms of psychosis including:

  • hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • delusions, believing something is true that isn’t

Going through the emotional highs and lows of bipolar disorder can greatly affect a person’s ability to function in day-to-day life. There’s no cure for bipolar disorder, but treatments can help.

Standard treatments, such as prescription medications and therapy, can help a person manage their mood changes and other symptoms. Researchers continue to look into other treatment options as well, including medical marijuana. But is it safe? Here’s what we currently know about the pros and cons of marijuana use in people with bipolar disorder.

Marijuana as treatment for other health conditions

Marijuana is from the cannabis plant whose dried leaves, stems, and seeds are smoked, eaten, or “vaped.” Marijuana contains compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds include a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the ingredient in marijuana that can make a person feel “high.”

While marijuana and medical marijuana aren’t currently legal in all states, doctors are discovering how the compounds could help relieve certain symptoms in people with chronic conditions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), compounds in marijuana can help treat symptoms such as:

  • appetite loss
  • inflammation
  • muscle control issues
  • nausea
  • pain

Today, there are medications available that contain compounds similar to cannabinoids, but don’t make a person feel high. An example is dronabinol (Marinol), which doctors prescribe for people with cancer to stimulate their appetite.

Smoking or consuming marijuana on its own can be helpful in reducing the side effects of some conditions, such as certain types of cancer. However, the research isn’t as conclusive when it comes to bipolar disorder.

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