Medical Marijuana and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, otherwise known as “manic- depressive illness”, is a chronic illness that is characterized by uncontrollable high moods (mania) and low moods (depression).  For years doctors and scientists have been looking for ways to help treat this disorder as nearly 2.9 % of the U.S population is affected on an annual basis. While conventional drugs are the main treatment option for Bipolar Disorder, improvements in medicine and technology have scientists highly interested in the psychoactive properties of medical marijuana and its effect when coupled with prescription drugs.

Can Medical Marijuana Help with Bipolar Disorder?

The psychoactive properties of medical marijuana have been shown to help fight anxiety, nervousness, impaired judgment, hypomania, hallucinations and feelings of suicide.  The above symptoms can be extremely detrimental to an individual and medical marijuana has been shown to reduce their effects. The Sagar Study and Ashton Review are two evidence-based reports that show how medical marijuana has impacted psychiatric patients on a positive level.

The Sagar study was conducted in 2016 by Dr. Kelly Sagar. Dr. Sagar’s intention was to prove that cannabis use influenced mood and cognitive function. The study took a random sample of 12 bipolar patients who smoke cannabis and 18 bipolar patients who did not smoke cannabis. EMA assessments were completed by the participants over a four-week course to note any mood changes.

The study’s finding suggests that there is not a noticeable difference in cognitive function between both groups. Those who smoked cannabis did not suffer any cognitive impairment. However, the participants who smoked cannabis noted reductions in mood symptoms leading to more stabilized moods.

The Ashton Review is a publication by the Journal of Psychopharmacology by C.H Ashton. Ashton wanted to prove that medical marijuana has a therapeutic effect on patients with bipolar disorder. Ashton had found that cannabinoids exert a sedative and hypnotic effect that improve concentration and relax the mind. Ashton mentioned that medical marijuana coupled with prescription drugs is the best method for balancing the mania and depression components of the disorder. Ashton has become a major advocate for medical marijuana and its place in medicine.

While the properties of medical marijuana cannot cure the disorder, it certainly can help. With the combination of prescription drugs and medical marijuana, patients are starting to not only feel better, but feel more balanced. There is still a lot more research to be done on this topic, but early signs point to medical marijuana making an impact on a larger scale in the realm of psychiatric medicine.