27 thoughts on “Is Medical Cannabis An Option for Bipolar Patients?

  • October 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I live in Colorado where marijuana is legal. I am a 40 year old woman who never tried marijuana in my life. After a bad depressive episode last winter I was desperate for something to work. I was popping Ativan like crazy to control anxiety and escape the pain of depression. It only made it worse. My sister has smoked marijuana recreationally for years and she convinced me to try some. I did and my depression went away. No kidding. I then applied for a medical marijuana card (mental disorders are not eligible for cannibis care in Colorado so I had to use a shoulder injury I received in a car accident as a reason for getting the card).
    Marijuana helped with the depression, but it didn’t make my life all better. Having two kids it’s not something I used any time I felt like it. I still had responsibilities. I went months with no depression.
    Then, over the summer a change in psych meds triggered my first manic episode. I tried to use marijuana to calm down, but it made it worse. It immediately gave me pressured speech and then I was admitted to a hospital for the mania.
    It probably was the particular strain of marijuana that caused my brain to go faster and maybe wouldn’t have happened with another strain.
    I haven’t used any since.
    I haven’t ruled it out though. Even my therapist agrees that it helped while I was depressed. She also told me she would rather have me use marijuana than Ativan because it’s easier on my system.
    So, it’s not a miracle substance. It can work and it can make it worse. Be aware of that.

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    • October 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      my boyfriend is schizophrenic afective bipolar and he smokes marajuana but, after it wears off he gets very threatening and psycho where he wants to kill people and fight with anyone including myself so I do not agree with the use of marajuana in mentally ill people

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  • October 21, 2013 at 3:47 am

    It’s an interesting idea. Medical marijuana in CA is helping many people where traditional medicines have their side effects and long term effects. I think misuse could become a problem especially if it worsens the bipolar person.But more research is needed because it’s an interesting concept…
    Ilissa Banhazl, MFT Glendora, CA

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  • October 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Kat – Great article. I don’t know if medical marijuana is appropriate for the treatment of bipolar disorder, but I think the idea of medical marijuana in general is rife with dangers. One person who commented on your article at said she had to use a shoulder injury get a medical marijuana card because mental disorders don’t qualify. That tells me that the system can readily be abused by people who likely don’t need medical marijuana. Are these medical marijuana laws allowing people to rationalize their abuse of marijuana?

    All that being said, I thing marijuana should be legalized everywhere and taxed. As a recovering alcoholic who has used marijuana in the past, I don’t think it is any more harmful than alcohol, and maybe even less so. But marijuana advocates don’t have the money that alcohol producers have to lobby in Washington. Their efforts are more often grass-roots (pun intended).

    I know from my experience that alcohol would have destroyed my life had I continued to drink. I don’t think that would have been the case with marijuana, but when I quit drinking, I gave up illicit drugs as well. I guess I was ready to start living life on life’s terms, not ion substances’ terms.

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  • October 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Marijuana is incredibly stigmatized and I believe a great deal of the “research” on it is purposefully skewed to make it look bad. There is a lot of evidance out there that this is the case. There are a lot of “fear tacticts” out there. I think they use a lot of correlations to create the fear. Such as “marijuana causes schizophrenia.” I think that is possibly closer to people trying to self-medicate with marijuana so when the doctor asks them they can say, “See that caused it.” That’s my opinion of course, but I think research in this area from non-biased sources would be very helpful for everyone.

    I have bipolar and when I was a teen I remember smoking recreationally. The commenter saying her mania was increased surprised me. Using marijuana is the only thing that ever decreased my racing thoughts and pressured speach, two of my worst symptoms of mania. However, like all medications I believe it effects people differently. I’m allergical to Abilify, Lamictle, and multiple antibiotics. Not everyone has bad effects from those, but I do. So, just like any medicine I don’t think it will work for everyone.

    However, I do believe it is safer than a lot of the other poison medications out there for mental health. I would be fully for trying it for my bipolar if I was able.

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    • October 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

      I think Some girl’s comments are spot on! Well said 🙂

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    • April 12, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      Some Girl!, I completely agree with all she wrote, and furthermore, I would say that all recreational drugs should be decriminalized, along the lines of what the legislators in Portugal have done. I have had Bi- polar.1. all my adult life and I sincerely believe now, that the right Cannabinoids, found in cannabis, may have been able to have treated my illness far better than any other legal drug treatments currently available.
      I am now 58 years old, and I resent the almost world wide prohibition of all “recreational” drugs, as I believe that if people have problems with drugs, then that is a medical issue, not a legal one!

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  • October 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I have bipolar disorder and smoked marijuana daily for several years when I was younger. I found the results in terms of treatment to be mixed at best. It did help control some manic symptoms, especially feeling agitated or just overly wound up. I found it tended to worsen my depression, however, and it sometimes triggered some mild psychotic episodes (which I’ve never experienced before or after I regularly used).

    One reason why it may not have worked well for me in treating depression is that I found that I wasn’t able to do some of the things I love doing as well when I was using. I enjoy reading literature and watching various documentaries (especially history and science) and found that my cognition was affected enough that I wasn’t able to do these things very well, so I tended not to do them. I also didn’t like the “hangover” effect in the morning – when I woke up I tended to feel pretty rundown compared to when I hadn’t used the previous day.

    Having said all this, to each their own, and I support legalization. Maybe it’ll work better for others with bipolar disorder. I do want to caution against this “marijuana is a cure-all” mindset that certain proponents of medical marijuana like to talk about. It’s difficult to study the effects of marijuana on various conditions, especially when it is smoked and the research relies on self-reports. One person’s idea of a “joint” may be quite different in terms of size than another’s. Some people inhale deeper and hold it in longer. Some strains are more potent that others. Some smoke the same amount of marijuana over a longer period of time than others. This type of thing makes the reseach on medical marijuana difficult to analyze and replicate. We’re generally not talking controlled, measured doses like we do with pharmaceutical grade medications.

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  • October 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    With twenty states and the District of Columbia having medical marijuana available to patients, the days of not knowing what kind of medical marijuana one is consuming is near an end. The strain of cannabis one consumes matters on how it’s going to effect a person. Dosing also matters. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, a patient has choices and there are legitimate health care professionals willing and able to help determine which strain is best suited for a particular ailment. In order to understand how cannabis (marijuana) works in our bodies it helps to know what the endocannabinoid system is, the endogenous arachidonate-based lipids, anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are. In short, our bodies naturally produce the same chemicals and compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. One could view the cannabis plant as an external supplement and not a poison like nicotine or alcohol is to our body and mind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoid_system

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    • October 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Nice job of trying to suggest that our bodies produce the same substances that cause the intoxicating effects of cannabis. Our bodies produce all sorts of chemicals but that is a wholly different matter than people walking around stoned out of their minds because they have ingested THC!

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      • October 26, 2013 at 10:56 am

        there is no ‘suggestion’ involved tonto… this is fact! Perhaps look it up on google… it shouldnt be too hard to find scholarly evidence to support the truth and as for people “walking around stoned out of their minds” well I suppose in your view its ok that they walk around numbed to the eyeballs by the toxic chemicals prescribed by so called medical experts…. we as a race have forgotten how miraculous nature is and prefer to think we know better… well that is just about as arrogant as it gets… but then thats what humans are I guess! I for one prefer to believe that whatever grows naturally on this earth was put here for a reason… how we use it is up to the individual. Of course some will abuse anything they get hold of that makes them feel better, and illegal or not, they will still do it. Continuing to scare monger about a naturally occuring herb with proven health benefits is simply a waste of time and money… legalise it so it can be controlled, just like alcohol & cigarettes which by the way cause way more harm than mj ever has. If u care about the issue, know your facts instead of making statements based on emotional blindness. The research has quite clearly shown that thc is not advisable during adolescence but after that puberty, its contolled use has a myriad of possible benefits.

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      • July 21, 2018 at 12:42 am

        This is accurate and I appreciate your knowledge on the topic! Preach! <3

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  • October 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Hi, I’m living proof that not only is Marijuana better than any pill on my system, but it has helped my suppress many of the symptoms associated with my conditions!!!

    I suffer from Bi-Polar disorder, insomnia, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and I suspect Glaucoma, which runs on my mother’s side of the family!!!

    1) My eyes act up 1-2 times a day!!! Usually, every morning, or throughout the day, my eyes will begin to irritate me…they fill up with what appears to be water, but it’s like a clear slimy gel, and no matter how much I rub, or wash my eyes, it doesn’t go away!!! Sometimes they irritate/swell to the point that I want to stick my fingers in there, and do damage!!! If I smoke some MJ, the swelling & irritation go away, and my eyes clear up!!!

    2) My PTSD is severe considering all the individual negative events which have marked my life, to the point that I can’t stop thinking about them, sometimes even thinking about going postal, or committing suicide!!! Marijuana not only helps to get my mind off of those things, but it also helps me to focus on things I like, even laugh, or have a good time, which is rare considering everything that’s happened to me!!!

    3) As far as my anxiety’s concerned, it eliminates panic attacks, and makes me more sociable!!! Over the years, I was a public performer, and didn’t mind crowds, but then my condition worsened, and I began to suffer panic attacks with crowds staring at me, and had to stop performing as a result!!! The MJ has helped me little by little to go out again, and actually interact with the public rom time to time!!!

    4) My Bi-Polar side can be extreme, especially my mood swings when I’m around others!!! Once I’ve medicated with MJ, my mood gets better, and I can actually enjoy doing things in the company of others!!!

    4) Insomnia is something I’ve struggled with since I was a kid, it started before the age of 10!!! During my college years, I worked 3rd shift, 10 years total!!! I went from feeling like superman to someone who could no longer function, it was like all those years took a total on my body, and mind, and my sleeping cycle deteriorated to the point that I got tired at all times of the day!!! Experimenting with different strains of MJ (exs: Sativa & Indica), I’ve noticed that when I’m tired, Sativa strains help elevate me to the point of keeping me awake, and capable of functioning, while Indica strains help me to be able to sleep better at night!!!

    5) My OCD at times can be irritating, not allowing me to focus on one task, leading me to start many projects, and leaving them to be completed at another time!!! I lose focus quickly, get bored, and need to move onto something else!!! I’m constantly doubting myself, leading to repetition, double/triple-checking things, and MJ helps me to focus on things once, and do them better, so I don’t keep doubting myself to the point of needing to do them again!!! Also, I’m able to stay focused on 1 task, and get it done!!!

    6) I’ve suffered from depression for at least half of my 38 years on this planet, some years have been worse than others, as a result of situations that I was forced into, and that I had no control over!!! I was arrested, thrown in jail, became homeless, lived on the streets, slept wherever I could, and did what I had to do to survive, but many times became depressed to the point of wanting to take my life!!!

    As you can see, I have at least 6 conditions, and I suspect at least 1 other, which by a doctor’s standards, would require me to take maybe a half dozen different pills in order to make me function somewhat normally, but which in the end, would probably cause me more harm physically, and psychologically!!! Marijuana is my medication of choice, it’s natural, treats all of my conditions, makes me feel better than any of those pills ever could, makes me happy, and eliminates the thoughts of suicide!!! I can truly say that if it wasn’t for MJ, I probably wouldn’t be here today!!!

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    • September 24, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      I have been diagnosed with every single illness you just said, since I was 18 years old. I am now 54. I have taken every single legally Rx for my condition. I have been compliant with the Doctor orders and now I am suffering from great side affects from taking all of these Rx for all these years. I have been on Medication that exists in the last 30 years. I can no longer take the prescribed Medicines from the Doctor. They do not work anymore or give me horrible side affects. I have only one chance left at a normal life and that is Medical Marijuana. I hope that they can find a way to make it work for me.

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  • October 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I think that it’s worth noting that I have bipolar I, and when the seasons change, my prescribed anti-depressants make me manic over summer. Wouldn’t it be better to have people taking marijuana under a doctor’s care, and have it as part of the arsenal at a doctor’s disposal, rather than self-prescribed, unmonitored use? Many of the medications I have taken have not worked or have affected me adversely, and yet they are still available because they work for some people, just not for me. I’d like to see marijuana be an OPTION, and not seen as a cure-all.

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    • October 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Another well said comment… here here 🙂

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  • October 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    The history of marijuana use in this culture is riddled with people who, far from being helped, have actually developed major mental health issues and dependencies. Cannabis use has done far more harm than good.

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    • October 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

      the facts say quite the opposite mungo jerry… abuse of any drug will cause harm… legalise it and control it…its just plain common sense

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  • October 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I agree with the previous comment. We are only now beginning to see how marijuana use over time is contributing to any number of mental health problems. We are,as well, witnessing how it is taking its toll on our young people. I’m confused by this talk of using this substance medically in connection with mental health when, in my experience, I only know of people who have major mental health issues as a result of smoking pot on a regular basis in their teen years.I am extremely concerned about promoting medical use of cannabis and giving young people more justification for using it and claiming that it is not only harmless but in fact good for you!

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  • October 25, 2013 at 10:43 am

    My ex is bipolar and has a MMJ card. I think when he was in one of his manic states and smoking, he was much more able to ‘step back’ from his disease and see things differently. His thinking was clearer, more intuitive and less angry, disagreeable etc. It also helped with depression. My son also uses medical marijuana for depression and ADD and it has helped him tremendously. He is like a different person. There is always the possibility of over using and just getting stoned-but I think MMJ has great potential. That is where a GOOD dispensary with educated people comes in. Like any other prescribed medication, different strains will work differently on different people. A high sativa may not be good for someone with bipolar, so it is good to know the THC levels. An indica may work better during a manic phase. It also can help with sleep and edibles could be beneficial if one knows more precisely the makeup of what they are ingesting and the amount that works for their body. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers like lithium, neurontin….all carry tons of negative side effects which can create more health problems like diabetes. I was witness to that for two years of psychiatric attempts at med changes to stabilize both the depression and mania. It was horrible. MMJ does not carry the same type of side effects and in my opinion works well if a person can find the right types of MMJ to treat specific mood issues. More people die of issues related to FDA approved medications (including death) than any other illegal drug in this country. Go MMJ!

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  • November 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I see comments from people who don’t medicate with MJ, don’t like MJ, but are being negative about it, or others they supposedly think they know who use it!!! Anyone can come in here and post negative comments about MJ, or people they know, who would most likely disagree with them concerning their opinion of them!!! MJ isn’t for everyone, all people are different, their bodies are different, and the results will be different!!! What we don’t need in here are negative people posting opinions about things they don’t know, whether it be about MJ, or people they THINK they know!!! The fact that these natural plants are illegal, while man-made drugs (ex: pills & alcohol) are legal, only makes Humanity look retarded!!! It’s amusing to watch people who consume the man-made alternatives in here rallying against the best alternative, nature’s medicine!!! Stop being hypocrites, get a life, and stop trying to add your $.02 cents about things you know nothing about!!! If you want to be pill-poppers, or drunks, you’re free to go about doing so, and you won’t catch us criticizing you for your choices, or methods of self-medication, so don’t come in here telling others how you think it should remain illegal, or how it makes others feel/react!!! Mind your business, and before you criticize, look in the mirror because I’m sure many of you resort to drinking, popping pills, smoking cigarettes, compulsively eating, engaging in sex with various partners, etc., etc., etc., which are more harmful for your health than consuming MJ!!! MJ works for me…nothing, and no one will ever change that, or stop it from happening because when it comes to my body, I’m the boss!!!

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  • November 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading the posts from other people regarding their experience with cannabis and how it affected them. At this point in time, not talking or learning about the truth of cannabis causes way more harm than good. There is plenty of current as well as past research out there that uncloaks the mysteries of the cannabis plant. Cannabis has been around for thousands of years, but has only been illegal for the last 80 years and that was because some rich guy wanted to protect his timber industry and lobbied congress to make all forms of the plant illegal, against the will of the medical community. The DEA stance that cannabis has no medical value and continues to be classified as a schedule one drug is just ludicrous, especially since The U.S. Patent Office issued patent #6630507 to the U.S.Health and Human Services filed on 2/2/2001 on cannabinoids. I advocate for the end of prohibition of cannabis for many reasons, but one stands out the most. Four years ago I almost crossed the line of no return after having a negative reaction to prescription antianxiety and pain meds. My wellbeing is much worse on manmade (synthetic) medicines pushed by doctors and pharmaceutical companies than I am with cannabis. I’ve suffered from depression, ADHD, and a few anxiety disorders my whole life and I am much healthier and stable when I am properly medicated with the right strain and dosage of the natural cannabis plant. I am fortunate to live in a medical marijuana state where doctors can freely talk to me about the pros and cons of cannabis and have safe access to it. I feel for those who live in a state that continue view patients as criminals and force people into the black-market for their medicine. As others have pointed out, there are people who like to enter online discussions about cannabis without adding any real substance to the conversation or doing any good research before posting for the sole purpose of causing harm or to derail any good dialogue from taking place. Thank you for those of you who had the courage to share your honest experiences.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS=PN/6630507&RS=PN/6630507

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  • February 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I live in a state where marijuana is decriminalized but yet a stigma. I am bipolar and I’ve used several prescribed medications to try to control my condition. The medications I took caused water weight gain, chronic diharea and if used too long would lead to liver damage.I also have been a pot smoker since college marijuana did not cause my bipolar I do know that. While using it consistently the episodes are more even and I feel better every day. My doctor couldn’t prescribe me marijuana but said if I wanted to use it to go ahead and use it and come back if I had any problems, that was over 10 years ago I nor my family have ever felt the need for me to go see him. My older children convinced my wife that marijuana was the best solution for my problem.The issue I have had is having to lead a double life…trying not to get caught using it or possessing it yet using it daily. I have considered moving to a state where it is legal but it’s hard to just change your life but I think it will be soon where I can go back to my doctor and he can prescribe me this medicationthat has worked for me and I can come out of the shadows and be a more active person in my community without the stigma of being a criminal if I were to get caught.

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  • May 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I was diagnosed bipolar fifteen years ago. I began smoking marijuana shortly after, and it has helped a lot with my mania. I also take Prozac for my anxiety, they both interact quite well together. I have tried other treatments along the way, I do not like the medications they have tried. I am very non narcotic, an don’t like feeling out of control of myself. With marijuana I can still function and have control of my life. I have talked to my therapist and she has tried to obtain information on medical marijuana for bipolar. Unfortunately New Jersey does not prescribe for bipolar disorder. Maybe in the future, but until then I will just keep doing what I have been.

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  • September 4, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I have dealt with bipolar and anxiety since my late teens. I’m now 39. I’m a single parent divorced twice and self employed. Recently my anxiety and depression was bad enough I couldn’t answer the phone or be in any type of crowd. No grocery stores no friends houses etc. I have smoked on and off over the years but always social and recreational. Recently with this mental health break I had access to a quality Marijuana and a friend who knows a fair amount of what the opinions are for mental health. I also decided to take medication again. The mood stabilizer sent me over the edge with side effects. I nearly wound up in the E.R. I decided to stop both the new meds and try Marijuana. I don’t get all stoney and lost with it. A few small puffs from a pipe after my kids go to school. I never keep or bring it into my home. I can answer and return phone calls. I slow my thoughts down and organize my day. I have to be careful though because I have faced racing thoughts while smoking too much. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. My thoughts at this point are not the same when I’m in an unaltered state of depression or anxiety. Those thoughts wind up going down rabbit holes rather left unexplored. The racing thoughts I do have while smoking are fleeting moments in a continued roll and are generally positive. They can be usually set aside by napping reading or physical activities. That brings me to another area I struggle in. When depression hits I can’t move on my own. When I smoke I’m not the stereotypical stoner watching Netflix with a bag of cheetos. I see and enjoy the sunlight. I embrace the rain and I set out to experience the world around me. Im new to the marijuana treatment of bipolar but the last month has been the hardest month I have had in 6 years and I have had a few rough bouts. The suicidal thoughts are gone in days. I’m reading and hiking again and I’m cleaning and rebuilding my office/garage. Hopefully in the days to come my anxiety will be at the point I can return to my business with a renewed sense of ability. The only anxiety Marijuana causes me is the law. I can’t say for certain that it’s the cure for me but I can say bipolar sure feels better with moderate use of grass.

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