Like many other mental health conditions, bipolar disorder can be a serious yet invisible ailment, meaning it often gets overlooked and misunderstood. However, the statistics around the condition are impossible to ignore, and as awareness grows around the benefits of CBD oil for both physical and mental health conditions, we are starting to see more connections being made between this cannabinoid and bipolar disorder.
As it stands, there is little understanding around the triggers of bipolar disorder, and not unlike depression and anxiety, the nature of the condition means it is often unpredictable and can be difficult to tie down to any one cause. But with over 2 million American adults being diagnosed with the condition every year, perhaps it’s time that we started looking at alternative treatments and preventative measures.
In this article, we take a look at everything you might need to know about bipolar disorder, and whether CBD oil could be a more effective treatment than some of the current traditional options.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, is a psychological disorder that causes dramatic and unpredictable mood swings. Unlike other mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar often comes out of the blue and can cause severe mood swings that usually leave the victim either very low and depressed in mood, or extremely excited, energetic and unpredictable in their behavior.
The symptoms of bipolar can vary widely depending on the current state of mood the individual is in. In the manic state, it is common to feel extreme happiness, creativity, energy, and enthusiasm. Although this feels like a positive experience at the time, it can sometimes last several weeks, or even months, causing unusual and out of character behavior that can be dangerous. On the flip side of this is, of course, the depressive mood, in which the individual can feel very low, unmotivated, unsociable and at times suicidal.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
As it currently stands, treatment for bipolar disorder is very similar to that of depression and psychosis, which as we now know, is causing massive issues across the U.S. The most common therapies on offer are mood stabilizers, which can be used to try and prevent the condition from flaring up. This is problematic of course because they are taken daily, and are meant for long-term use, so the addictive nature of the medication means they can be difficult to come off. We also know that there are additional health risks when using drugs like this over long periods of time.
There are also other types of medications prescribed to treat the symptoms of bipolar when they occur, as well as psychological therapies such as counseling which can assist with depressive thoughts.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition with no exact molecular triggers. Unfortunately, and despite much research into the matter, there is no exact cause of the psychological condition. Many researchers and clinicians have speculated as to what may trigger the disorder; however, it seems that there are a few contributing factors at work.
The most popular opinion is that bipolar is highly reliant on our genetic makeup, meaning that it is pretty much unavoidable and can be triggered at any point in our lives. Alongside this, there is also strong research into chemical factors causing the condition to trigger. This can be set off by any number of the following:
- Extreme stress
- Dramatic changes in circumstances
- A life-changing event
- Overwhelming problems
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found within marijuana. Over recent years, the compound has become more and more popular for its potent health benefits, and it now rivals THC for the top spot according to many weed enthusiasts!
CBD has been heavily studied over the years in regard to how it interacts with our body, and how it can be used to combat some of the most debilitating conditions that affect millions of humans worldwide.
While it has not all been plain sailing due to the complex nature of legalities around the plant itself, the results of all these studies have been extremely promising. So much so in fact, that CBD from hemp is now legal across America, and CBD from marijuana is legal in over half the states, with more changing their stance every month.
But what do the studies say when it comes to CBD and the human body?
Results have shown that CBD not only works with our endocannabinoid system, which plays a massive part in our overall health and well being, but it can do so with fewer side effects than most traditional medications, less risk of addiction, and almost no risk of addiction.
When we look at CBD compared to many of the traditional pharmaceuticals on the market, it is a no-brainer – cannabidiol (the scientific word for CBD) has been shown to have positive effects on many of the serious symptoms associated with a long list of conditions, from epilepsy and chronic pain, to anxiety, depression, and yes – bipolar disorder.
But how does CBD work?
Well, each and every one of us is born with an endocannabinoid system, which works to regulate bodily functions that are crucial to a healthy life. The ECS controls the way we feel emotion and hunger, regulates our core body temperature, and can affect how we feel pain (to name just a few things). It does all this by releasing endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids produced by the body.
When CBD is consumed, it works with the ECS to promote an increased amount of natural cannabinoids, which can then carry out their function of providing balance and homeostasis throughout the body. It is for this reason that CBD is believed to be able to help with so many different conditions.
Can CBD Help Treat Bipolar Disorder?
Cannabis has been used to relieve stress for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, it has become a bit of a stereotype for weed lovers to be relaxed and “chilled out” 24/7. While this of course is an over-exaggeration, there is some truth to it, and as such, those suffering from stress, anxiety and even depression have been turning to weed for years.
It sounds great and straightforward, but we know that certain aspects of cannabis can also potentially cause anxiety or psychosis to become worse, and that is mainly due to the psychoactive compound of the plant: THC. So with that in mind, could CBD alone be enough of a treatment for these types of disorders?
Well, nothing definitive can be said yet, but studies suggest that CBD oil could, in fact, be an effective treatment for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
CBD has been shown to possess neuroprotective qualities (meaning that it can be used to treat neurological disorders), and has actually been patented by the government as such. While some studies point to a damaged endocannabinoid system as part of the cause behind the bipolar disorder, it appears that CBD’s ability to work with the ECS is one of the major reasons why it is so effective.
And there are studies to back this up. A study published in Neuropharmacology in 2016, for example, looked at the anti-depressant qualities of CBD in an animal study. The rat models all had a diagnosis of depression, and were observed to respond positively to CBD. The reaction to the compound was both fast-acting and long-lasting, leaving the animals with considerably improved augmenting cortical serotonin levels.
A second study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2007, looked at the effects of extreme marijuana use on long-term bipolar sufferers. The study collected mood data of bipolar sufferers over a two-year time frame, and the results were fascinating – although the cannabis use did not improve the number of ‘normal days,’ it did increase the number of manic days while decreasing the number of depressive days. Arguably this is not a huge “selling point” for marijuana and mood disorders. But with the knowledge that CBD can work to counteract some of the psychotic and paranoia-inducing effects of weed, treatments like CBD oil may be a much preferred choice.
In another study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research in 2006, researchers looked at a 19-year old schizophrenic woman who had reacted badly to traditional antipsychotic medications. In the study, they compared her reaction to traditional drugs with those brought on by CBD oil. The results showed a great improvement in the woman’s mood when on CBD oil, as compared to the other treatments which made her moods considerably worse.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Bipolar Disorder
There are plenty of other studies into CBD oil and mood/depressive/bipolar disorders out there, and they all seem to come to a single general conclusion – that CBD may have positive effects on balancing mood. Much more research is no doubt needed in order to verify any acclamations, but the simple fact is that many people are already using therapeutic forms of CBD oil for bipolar disorder, with generally beneficial results.
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