The U.S. is currently debating the use of medical marijuana. Some states have approved it, while others are reluctant, given the small pools of evidence and research on marijuana in a medical setting. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from civilians, however, who say marijuana has helped them with various conditions.
Recent research shows that certain chemicals (cannabinoids) in marijuana may have positive effects for people with anxiety or bipolar, such as antidepressant and sedative effects, but at the same time, there are also a lot of reports of people who have experienced quite the opposite with marijuana.
For some people, marijuana use can lead to panic, hallucinations, depressed behavior or delusions. These can all be symptoms of bipolar as well, which means there is potential for marijuana and bipolar disorder to be a bad combination. While marijuana doesn’t cause bipolar disorder, it can replicate the symptoms of the disorder.
When marijuana is regularly used at an early age or is used chronically, its chemicals can impact the brain further and can lead to periods of psychosis, with symptoms similar to schizophrenia.
Another reason marijuana and bipolar disorder can be problematic together is that the THC component of the drug activates the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear. When this area is affected by a drug like marijuana, it can create feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
The general consensus when looking at marijuana and bipolar disorder is that someone with such a serious mental illness should avoid the use of this drug and other substances. Does marijuana cause bipolar? No, probably not, but its use can make symptoms worse, and may even allow for the symptoms to manifest in someone who was previously undiagnosed.
With marijuana and bipolar, there is also the possibility of the person to experience more significant depressive episodes. After the effects of ingesting marijuana wear off, depressive symptoms can worsen.
Another consideration with marijuana and bipolar disorder is that if someone uses drugs regularly, they may be less inclined to take their prescribed medicine to treat bipolar symptoms. This can become extremely dangerous or even deadly if the person has suicidal or violent thoughts without their medicine.
The best thing you can do if you have bipolar disorder, or even think you might, is seeking help from a professional with experience in this treatment area.
Medical marijuana and bipolar disorder may have some positive effects with one another in terms of anecdotal evidence, but there are too many unknowns. It’s not something you should try on your own without consulting a medical professional.
If you feel you have a marijuana use disorder and you also have bipolar symptoms, seek treatment that focuses on dual-diagnosis. This will take into consideration not only the substance use disorder but also the mental health disorder, and you will be able to determine which route for managing bipolar disorder is best.