Marijuana for Patients with Bipolar Disorder

Marijuana for Patients with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal mood shifts, as well as fluctuations in energy, activity levels and the ability to complete everyday tasks. Bipolar is a serious mental illness that can damage relationships, career prospects, academic performance and can even lead to suicidal tendencies. A patient with Bipolar Disorder has severe fluctuations in mood (poles) – from depression to mania. Usually, moods are normal in between the peaks and troughs.

Bipolar disorder has nothing to do with the ups and downs we all experience sometimes; it is much more severe, debilitating and incapacitating. Fortunately, it is treatable and with proper care and the right medication, patients can perform well at work and academically and are able to live full, productive lives. About 4.4% of US citizens have had a diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder at some time in their lives, while the world average is 2.4% it could affect most anybody as it has some of the notable individuals like Jesse Jackson Jr., Jane Pauley, and Sinead O’connor.

A new study found that use of cannabis (marijuana) couldi be helpful in improving certain neurocognitive functions in people who have Bipolar Disorder. It has also been a belief that the use of marijuana in moderate doses is non-addictive and as such, during the pendency of suffering from Bipolar Disorder, patients gain relief. There are research studies which has also shown marijuana to be helpful in managing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

In a more recent study, a collaborative effort between researchers at The Zucker Hillside Hospital in Long Island, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York explored the impact of medical marijuana on the cognitive performance of 50 individuals with Bipolar Disorder who had a history of cannabis use compared with 150 people with the same mental disorder but had no history of cannabis use. All the participants were similar in racial background, age, and educational level, as well as when Bipolar Disorder was diagnosed. Results revealed that individuals who had a history of marijuana use showed “significantly better neurocognitive performance, particularly on measures of attention, processing speed, and working memory” than those study participants who did not use marijuana.

This finding is similar to the one reached by researchers at the University of Oslo and reported on in Psychological Medicine in 2010. In that study, 133 patients with Bipolar Disorder and 140 with schizophrenia were evaluated, along with their use of marijuana. The Oslo investigators found that use of marijuana among Bipolar Disorder subjects was associated with improved neurocognitive function. Bipolar patients who used marijuana showed good focused attention, verbal fluency, logical memory learning, and memory recall.