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Does Cannabis Help or Worsen Bipolar Disorder?

March 10, 2015

According to new research published last week, bipolar symptoms of mania and depression may be worsened by cannabis use. The study, conducted at Lancaster University (UK), analyzed clinically structured diary entries of 24 bipolar patients who consumed cannabis a minimum of three times a week.

Bipolar disorder (BD) and cannabis are a common couple, and you don’t have to look any further than the Leafly strain database to get an idea of how prevalent the connection is. In light of their findings, the researchers wonder to what extent these perceived benefits are overstated.

Over the course of six days, subjects filled out diary entries in which they described their mood and included notes on their recent cannabis use. This approach, known as the experience sampling method (ESM), reduces memory bias commonly found in retrospective reporting and typically captures more detailed data. Final findings were adjusted to consider other factors like age, sex, and other drug use.

Here’s what they found:

  • Cannabis use was associated with positive emotions, but also with increased manic and depressive symptoms.
  • Marijuana use was not associated with self-medicating behavior, meaning subjects tended to use cannabis when feeling good rather than after a manic or depressive episode.

While these findings match up with previous research on cannabis use and bipolar disorder, this study comes with limitations and unanswered questions:

  • Its small sample size of 24 British participants overgeneralizes the diversity of BD patients and their backgrounds.
  • Subjects were “well and out of episode,” meaning patients were not currently experiencing the acute expression of bipolar disorder. How would findings change with varying intensities of BD?
  • Subjects could only report the nature of their cannabis consumption using three exclusive categories: skunk, resin, and grass. Would you have the same results with varying chemical profiles, delivery methods, and doses?
  • Results were solely based on data generated from diary language, which was interpreted by study authors. To what degree do their biases guide their reading of these accounts?
  • No control group was used in this study. Are these results unique to BD patients, or would you see similar results in non-bipolar cannabis consumers?

As it stands, the relationship between cannabis and BD is up for debate. Other studies have identified potential therapeutic applications of cannabinoids in bipolar disorder, and there’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence echoing that claim. But the causes, mechanisms, and nuanced nature of bipolar disorder are poorly understood and not everyone responds to cannabis in the same way. It’s possible that in a larger study, you’d see more complexity in the relationship between cannabis and bipolar disorder. Maybe marijuana’s ability to help is dependent on a vast number of variables left unconsidered here. We don’t know, and we can’t know until more thorough research adds to this tiny fragment of the much, much larger picture.

Image credit: Eden, Janine, and Jim via Photopin cc

  • Tanis41493

    To the writer, Bailey Rahn. Unarguably, the majority of those of us who use this site are pro-cannabis. That being said, One’s beliefs often have an influence on their work (In this case, writing), though this is obviously not an absolute statement (I ain’t a sith). I just wanted to say that the way you addressed this was pretty unbiased, professional, and informant. I respect your for being able to make sure to present BOTH sides, so that people can make their OWN opinions. That’s what the media is SUPPOSED to be doing, instead of pushing their designated political agendas.

    Tl;dr I respect you greatly for managing to give people unbiased information in order to help them reach their OWN conclusions, and not trying to push an agenda on them. The media needs more writers/reporters like you.

  • manofredearth

    I call bunk. Not impossible, certainly, but the beginning of a road that will lump all of us into a VERY narrow and grossly inaccurate catagory (“Have BiPolar, Can’t Use Marijuana”). I will always support research, but this was nothing more than one pursuing a pseudo-intellectual fancy: 24 people, no measure of dosage, and no control group? Not worth the time or money spent on useless results. Thanks for exposing this!

  • Ed Cantarella

    I think cannabis worsens it. Bi polar is about a swing from high to low and cannabis is going to interrupt that by pushing things one direction or another depending on whether indica or sativa. Neither end of the spectrum are good for the BP person or those around them. Middle ground is what they want/need. I had a manic episode while “burning” a lot and I have sworn off cannabis for life. That has also opened up a lot of job opportunities for me as well. :/

    • Peter

      I feel that weed is a million times better and it’s just soooooo good like I love it, it destroys the shit but it builds up and destroys me and hurts me, I feel like I’m going to get worse, but it helps me seem normal and I don’t want to look crazy like I’d rather seem normal than be crazy, with weed I don’t feel crazy, I feel normal but I don’t learn from my mistakes and without weed I just hate people like I see only the bad in them but after a while I see good, I tried writing down how I feel and it’s making me insane to know who I really am, it’s all shit, but I change really quickly from swing to swing and it’s rapid like I have a complete different look on life and what’s happening to me, I don’t want meds, they made my mom crazy, she’s only happy with medication and it’s hurting her, she’s a sociopath, I feel that if I don’t learn I atliest won’t become her, I won’t do what she does to people, I feel a million times better and at ease with myself smoking weed and being stupid about other people than being smart and using other people

  • jane lane

    I have bipoler disorder and smoking weed helps with many of the symptoms… helps level me out, makes me less impulsive, and my manic/depressive episodes aren’t as intense. Emotionally, it’s a saving grace. Although if I overdue it I will then have delusions and minor hallucinations (mostly auditory) and get major anxiety. So I can only smoke a little bit at the time, usually only about a bowl. But everyone is different and reacts differently to all medicine so you will never really know until you try it for yourself. I have been smoking weed for about 12 years though, and didn’t have strong bipolar symptoms like I do now, so that’s possibly why I am able to smoke without so many of the negative side effects people have experienced.

  • Elf Spencer

    Before I was medicated with a mood stabilizer, smoking was a real crap shoot. Sometimes it would make me so manic, I’d snap at the people around me– I even made a happy stoner cry! (I don’t know what that strain was, and it was 10 years ago)

    Going to be doing a lot of experiments, and keeping a journal. Being a rapid-cycler is about to come in handy~

  • Kate McCorkle

    This is awesome

  • Mmj2live

    I am 42 had my first manic episode when I was 18. I had 8 major episodes where I ended up in a hospital over the next 10 years. I started using marijuana at around the age of 28 to help my situation. I take about two to three small puffs every other week and will do more if I start having racing thoughts. It will sort of reset my brain. If I do to much to often I will become self conscious and start falling into a depressive state. Arjan’s haze caused me to hallucinate, so I stay away from pure sativas. I haven’t had a major manic episode in 14 years. I think dosage is the real key.

    • Peter

      Wait if you hallucinate it’s bad, I never knew I was bipolar until today after my 3 episode in 2 years and smoking weed before I sleep every day made me really happy but then I found out that by being honest or what I thought as honest I was just lying to myself, I smoked and drank coffee or a caffeinated drink and it triggered the hallucination and I loved it but though it was weird, first time that happened was great, I just saw colors and beautiful things and for some reason a person I didn’t think about in a long time in a green shade that was blinking, the second time I saw Chucky who is my biggest fear but he just standed there and I didn’t feel unsafe, but I was weirded out but that was just this one dealers weed, this other guy gave me mids which was just great and really helped me, he is offering green crack for me right now and he also gave me blue dream and that was perfect, I feel that it depends but I feel that if I let it all out its just more and more shit like it’s never ending, if I smoke I feel great for a long ass time but I’m just hiding the shit, there’s just so much shit, it seems to never end, I pick up on everything but I forget it easily, smoking weed made me happy so I didn’t think about it because I was happy and the shit doesn’t matter when you are happy so I didn’t learn from my mistakes and I just kept and kept and kept not learning but it’s better not to learn than the shit I feel or better yet wonder because I have always been, Iv been odd my whole life until I found weed and it just makes the shit go away and I seem like I’m normal but I’m way to honest to the point I believe it and then when I stop for 10 days I just get an epiaide, or when I stop for a month and I feel like I’m a sociopath and I get it from my mom and I lie like my mom and I know when she lies and oh all of her lies are connected and oh shit I know something for sure and I want to kill myself, the weed just made the shit go away it’s the best and yes it makes the episodes worse but I’m telling people how I feel so they can tell me how to act and the problem with that is that I need to learn not them because that is the only way I remember but I don’t want to learn, I want to feel good, I don’t want to depend on fucking meds, fuck the meds, im smoking weed before I touch the shit that made my mom crazy, I’m not becoming her, she created an addiction to that shit, Im going to smoke when I feel bad but I just can’t do it every day, I can’t be like her, she depends on it for happiness and it made her woras, she’s a sociopath, I’m not her, I want to change her but her mind is made up and I can’t change what can’t develop into something better, I can still develop into the good, I just can’t write down what I forget because it hurts me but it’s the only way I learn, I’m going to smoke to go to sleep, and I’m going to do the right stuff not the shit that makes you hallucinate, can someone tell me how often I should do it

      • Addie Mcgee

        Peter: I have horrible dysphoria without my medications and even worse if I use marijuana to get a high feeling. Things normal people find shocking or heartbreaking I ususally dont see as a big deal, but if Im high I finally understand why those things are shocking or heartbreaking. The feeling of being high feels great it makes me feel like I finally understand like a normal person, plus my nerve pain and anxiety are gone and I feel abilty to just make the phone calls or write the letters or do the tasks that I would have been not doing because the anxiety and nerve pain make me put it off. The bad part of the high is that while it makes me feel like a normal person I still have a feeling that I am not comfortable somehow, like Im too relaxed or too eemotional. Ive experimented a couple of times with finding the right dose and frequency because I think the goal for me is to not get high but still get the benefit of being able to function and make decisions without anxiety or nerve pain. My cousins baby has severe epilepsy and they are experimenting by using marijuana oil that have different ratio’s of cbd:thc, the thc is the stuff that gets you high the cbd is the other chemical in marijuana that doesnt get you high. I think I need a higher amount of cbd to thc, but definitely need some thc but not too much so I get high. Dosing isnt precise because its not commonly used in medical settings yet.

        • Peter

          Man that’s sucks, I get really bad anxiety and get depressed really easy out of nowhere, and weed helps but I tbh don’t know the answer yet, if I stop it only takes a month for me to be a zombie that hates life, if I smoke to have a good sleep every once in a while and drink coffee in the morning plus some meds called guanfacine which are only 1 milligram and I just feel normal and good, drinking coffee is probably bad but it gets me moving and I’m more social with it, it’s tbh just a question of how comfortable are you with yourself from a scale from one to ten and I like to be good and not think about it which is how I am now, but each mind is different so don’t take my advice

    • DD6007

      OMG – Mmj2live – it’s good to finally run across someone who use cannabis the way I do. I agree dose is important but frequency is key! with BP1 rapid cycling, how I feel after a few puff isn’t what I”m after – its the days/weeks that follow. For me, higher CBD normalizes/resets manic symptoms. For depression, equal THC/CBD or slightly higher THC can help but this is where it gets tricky – too much THC or too frequent use causes a seesaw rather than a reset. I’m learning to use how I feel after a few puffs to inform when and how much I use next time. I’ve always thought the medical model of treating an inconsistent disorder with consistent medication somewhat flawed. I’d love to see some solid research into this type of use – as a way to shift mood not control it. Perhaps a comparison of: 1) regular & consistent – like prescription meds – mg/day 2) periodic – for the immediate result – like getting high and 3) periodic aimed at brain reset – for the residual affect – as mmj2live describes above which I find works well. Anyone know of any?

  • Samuel Ciraulo

    I have Bipolar 2 and the kind of depression that I dub “the void” because there isn’t a shred of emotion in it most of the time.

    Anyways when I used Cannabis the majority of strains would make me feel alive but not manic though of course Cannabis can give you minor manic symptoms if you use too much.

    I would occasionally have intense anxiety but it was well worth it.

    I can tell you this though, after not being able to use Cannabis for two years after using it for years to treat my Bipolar is like going blind a second time, it is Hell.

    I can’t speak for everyone but for myself Cannabis is a godsend with this thorn in my mind.

    Without emotion life is meaningless, Cannabis is the only thing that makes me feel anything and I have used synthetic drugs (anti depressants and anti psychotics even anti epileptics before).

    • Luis Morales

      Hi my name is Luis and today while I was on my way out of work I was very manic so I can relate I really went nuts actually I lost my bank card I forgot were I put it cause I was so manic I cut a lady off on the road cause I was driving angry and happy and sad and depressed at the same time so I herd from an article I read that cannabis helps treat bipolar disorder. I usually smoke recreationally however I do take medicine for my manic behavior and bipolar symptoms and I really wanted to know if that’s such a good idea. After my episode driveing I bought some weed from my dealer and I smoked it thinking it would help due to the article I read however that is actually the only reason I kinda got into smoking recreationally if it’s treating my Disorder then hey why not toke up and heal at the same time you know but please contact me anybody who is interested in my reply to this comment I really need a friend or an acquaintance that has my disorder that can give answers my name is Luis and my question of the day to anyone is what are your factual opinions on takeing prescribed medication while smokeing canabis thanks my email is thanks

  • John Deavers Jr.

    As someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar 2, and who also indulges in the beautiful life saving cannabis, I would have to say when it comes to marijuana being used as a medication for bipolar disorder its just like every other bipolar medication, its not for everyone. Take me for example, I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar for the last 4 years now and my doctors and I still haven’t found the right medication combination for me yet. Even with cannabis it could come down to the strain you are using at the time you are using it, like right now for me Im more of a sativa dominant guy myself, huge fan of sour diesel. So I would have to say not enough research has been done to make any kind of statement and maybe someone should speak to possible bipolar patients who already use marijuana to cope with their disorder to get information from them before conducting another experiment…….. just a suggestion.

  • Noetherian

    Even though this article sounds like it’s unbiased (and it arguably is to an extent), its bias lies in the fact that it’s not considering the possible real scenario of cannabinoid-induced mania in people with psycho-affective or mood disorders. It is not uncommon knowledge that it does in fact have some effect:

    So I think it’s been studied more in different implications and under different questions. But in some ways, because cannabis induces symptoms of phychosis then people who are already have a predisposition to psychosis and mania, will become more of said trait. That, by definition, is making bipolar disorder (and schizophrenia and aspergers-related psychosis) worse. Schizoaffective disorder is also grouped under this implication.

    The conclusion is then, that we must proceed with caution, of course there are sampling biases and not enough evidence and such and such. But just because we can’t formally prove it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. On a neurological level, absent of clinical observation, these scenarios are very plausible.

    • lol

      “So I think it’s been studied more in different implications and under different questions. But in some ways, because cannabis induces symptoms of phychosis then people who are already have a predisposition to psychosis and mania, will become more of said trait.”
      -Very true,seems entirely plausible.If a person is already prone to psychosis why let a hallucinogenic substance into his/her body.

      • sourlemon

        I can’t speak for others, but for me, THC does not induce hallucinations.

        • lol

          The point is psychosis ,dunno about hallucinations.

  • PWitchery

    I don’t have a diagnosis yet, but my therapist has hinted that I might be bipolar 2. I plan to see if I can GET a diagnosis, because my situation looks suspicious.

    Today, I had a meltdown. Not a manic episode, but a VERY emotional day. I was very depressed, anxious, and upset today, to the point where I was thinking of going to the hospital. I keep edibles on hand for my fibromyalgia-related pain. I decided to have one, and it stabilized me like a boss.

    I haven’t told my therapist I use it yet, but when I see her this week, I’m going to tell her about what happened today. This is really interesting.

  • Snowbals

    Disclaimer: In the process of being diagnosed, but I have an excessive family history with BiPolar and think I’m recovering from a week long episode. If this is an episode, it’d be my second.

    Symptoms from “episode”: ANXIETY out the ass. Cannot stop thinking a mile a minute. Mildly sad/angry thoughts pop up in head that will eventually spiral into crying/being suuuper pissed off (I’m normally great at compartmentalizing). Likely to bolt out of a room if I’m cornered or in a heated argument. Avoiding people because I don’t want to be looked at. Can’t (couldn’t) concentrate unless my mind was empty. Likely to snap and say mean things I do not mean. And then randomly crying when walking by myself.

    I used to smoke every day at a rate of about an 8th every two weeks or so. We’re talking ~75% of a bowl and smoking probably ~6/7 nights. I built up quite a tolerance, and because I can compartmentalize so easily, I liked to dissect my highs. Sativa made me much more funny (I’m an actor…) (but also kind of reminded me of my manic self…) and really good with anything motor skills related, like video games, driving, dancing, etc. Indica was my favorite at first, making all senses feel amazing, but now it just kind of mutes my mind. Once the tolerance was built, Indica really just seemed like a waste of time and money, while sativa seemed to help with my ADHD if I were wake and bake with one hit. Other than that, I stopped getting high (even from huge sessions with friends) and only experienced minor changes, but it still relaxed my body and made me feel physically good. As far as strands go, I’ve been smoking on maybe 6 different ones the past few months (when I started dissecting highs). Two I remember for sure were Grandaddy Purp and Blue Cheese. I think I hated blue cheese, but it was probably only the taste. Damn that shit was gross.
    Anyways, my highs during this past episode (which I didn’t realize was an episode, idk if I would have smoked) included three strains: Purple Urkle, “Pure Island”, and Trainwreck.

    Purple Urkle was bad. I was home alone with my two dogs, one of which (the more social one) was going through separation anxiety. I would look into her eyes as she would anxiously pace and do other old dog stuff, and I thought about how all breeds of Dogs are doomed to have some kind of fucked up mind because they’re inbred and mutated for a solely cosmetic quality. If you were to do that shit to humans, those humans would be fuuuucked in the head. So thinking about that eventually spiraled me down into complete and total fear, knowing that if I were to enter the mind of that dog, that I’d see a really, really fucked up world. This really fucked me because I love that dog with all my heart, so I was desperately trying to calm her down in an attempt to prove my thoughts wrong. Aside from that, which was terrible, time seemed to stop. This was also very scary, but in a disconnected, existential way. As I sat on my backdoor patio, I gazed into the frozen, wallpaper sky. I felt like I was trapped in a movie scene and there was nothing I could do except hopelessly try to go on with my futile life. Goddamn that was a fucked high. But, to be honest, those “spirals” were one of the most common qualities of my sober, episode self.

    “Pure Island”, whatever the fuck that is, is a majority sativa. This guy I liked. It felt like what I thought to be a CBD high, where you can comprehend what you see more than 3 feet in front of you, does that make sense? Sometimes highs “blind” me, where I can’t really think/operate outside my immediate bubble. This was great because I thought of it as giving me all the relaxation, but none of the stoner spacey-ness, ya dig? Normally Sativas kind of take my life on auto pilot and I can just watch myself be an amazing person haha, but this guy I was in 100% control. Perhaps it was weak bud, but I do believe in it being CBD because it counteracted the Purple Urkle (before the episode) and I INSTANTLY noticed that I wasn’t “blind” anymore but still high.

    Trainwreck I can’t talk much about, because me and my buddy divied up each bowl, so this description is gonna be all 3 weeds. When I was only with friend 1 while we were toking at first, I slowly started to think he was crazy, just like I would to my dog the next day. To be fair, he was saying some slightly fucked shit, but it just caught me off guard because we haven’t talked in person in a while and I started to spiral in my own head. Kind of out of fear, I retreated into the bathroom and eventually my bed, where I passed the fuck out. I then woke up after maybe 10 minutes because friend number 2 arrived, and once I saw that he didn’t notice anything wrong with friend 1, my high instantly turned into so much fun and we did so much stoner shit and it was really a great time.

    Conclusion: Don’t smoke if you think you’re currently going through a super manic or super depression moment. I don’t know much about BiPolar, or if I have it, or if was going through an episode. If it was an episode, I honestly can’t tell you if it were manic or depressive. I’m thinking depressive, because I am infamous for being slightly arrogant, never stop talking (just read all this shit haha), always getting from point A to B as fast as possible, having to reword my natural sentences to communicate with others, and always having roundabout concepts of society/universe. All of which I’m pretty sure is mania, because I have A LOT of family with bipolar (we’re talking both parents, uncle, grandma, more than likely a few siblings, and god only knows whoelse in this batshit insane family).

    So take all this as you want. I am not a doctor. I am not a psychologist. I’m studying for engineering. I know nothing about nothing. this is my experience how it happened.

    AGAIN, MY ADVICE IS NO. I really love weed. I like to collect and clean pieces and I love to read about each strand and think about my own experience with each. I can’t say much else about smoking while not having an episode, because I’m pretty sure it was normal weed high. It’s as normal as I’ll ever get, so I can’t tell ya.

    Peace, let me know if you can relate or have any comments really. I enjoyed letting out my thoughts and I hope you enjoyed reading them.

    EDIT: Few grammatical errors. Cleared up some points.

    • lol

      Relate? God damn,so much!!
      1.”ANXIETY out the ass. Cannot stop thinking a mile a minute
      +Likely to bolt out of a room if I’m cornered or in a heated argument. Avoiding people because I
      don’t want to be looked at”
      – totally normal,but i do the sudden crying while watching movies ie
      even slightly emotional scenes will make me bawl and relate to the character as if connected to
      it somehow.

      2.”I would look into her eyes as she would anxiously pace and do other old dog stuff, and I thought about how all breeds of Dogs are doomed to have some kind of fucked up mind because they’re inbred and mutated for a solely cosmetic quality. If you were to do that shit to humans, those humans would be fuuuucked in the head. So thinking about that eventually spiralled me down into complete and total fear, knowing that if I were to enter the mind of that dog, that I’d see a really, really fucked up world.”
      -This whole passage could ve easily happened to me( all the details
      changed,but similiar scenario) but spiralling of one thing into another and it all ending up in
      hopelessness and unnecessary realisations which themselves might be false.

      3. “When I was only with friend 1 while we were toking at first, I slowly started to think he was
      crazy, just like I would to my dog the next day. To be fair, he was saying some slightly fucked
      shit, but it just caught me off guard because we haven’t talked in person in a while and I started
      to spiral in my own head. ”
      – this sure has happened,but it just might be you getting paranoid
      and confused,you wondering whether its just you or friend 1,you were lucky to have friend 2 as
      a relative measure xO

      4.”because I am infamous for being slightly arrogant, never stop talking (just read all this shit haha), always getting from point A to B as fast as possible, having to reword my natural sentences to communicate with others, and always having roundabout concepts of society/universe. All of which I’m pretty sure is mania”
      – Always getting from point A to B qiuckly,having to reword sentences and having a roundabout concept,a slightly different perception of the reality that surrounds men,words right out of my mouth,could nt have said it any differently,its like my whole life has been a been a constant episode of hypomania.

      Weed is a hallucinogen and im already a pretty paranoid person so be it indica or sativa if there is the slightest disturbance in my environment even the slightest noises makes me go apeshit,
      but if the environments secure ,like surety of not being disturbed than any weed is good weed.

      • Hi, there. Just wanted to check in ask if you are also diagnosed with ADHD as the original poster is. I’m sure you’re aware of the high rate of co-morbidity between ADHD and bipolar. A lot of what you’re saying is explained by ADHD as well. You may know this, but I’m happy to answer any questions. Best-

  • Jenn

    I don’t think a study like this is even worth publishing. What kind of Bipolar did they have? BP1, BP2, Rapid Cycling? What strains did they use? There are too many variables and too few patients in this study. I have MS and BP2. I cannot take any of the standard mood stabilizers because of interactions with prescriptions I need to take. However, there are strains of cannabis that do help with anxiety, depression and other BP symptoms.

  • Lisa Marie Henness

    The problem is there are many different types of Bipolar Disorder (BP1, BP2, Rapid Cycling) and each person who has the disorder also experiences their symptoms differently. I am BP1 with psychosis … I have extreme downs and extreme highs, my reactions to these are different then anyone I know who has BP1. My meds help alot (only took 23 yrs to find the right combination) but even the meds dont take away the underlying depression I carry with me daily. That’s where the marijuana comes into play, it allows me to feel genuine happiness because my anxiety is lowered, my fears and voices in my head are quieted. Because every body is unique in their genetic make up how medication and marijuana effects will vary and can not be understood by such an approach as this test attempted. To many variables. However excellent reporting of facts by this writer.

  • Josh Saunders

    I find the discussion around bi polar and cannabis to be a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario.
    Did i start using cannabis to mask my symptoms in my late teens? Did it cause my bi polar? Should i stop and just use these meds that the psych is telling me to use?
    It wasnt until i had a family and had to really start looking at managing my condition rather than “riding the wave” that i tried quitting and fighting with myself because of other peoples opinions.
    With the help of my partner who has never used cannabis (and has decided to enter uni to pursue medicinal cannabis research), she let me see that cannabis allows me to be a productive member of society and i have come to terms with the fact that is simply part of my “magic concoction”.

  • Gabrielle Woodworth

    As a 20 year old female with pretty severe bipolar type 1, this article is completely different from my personal experience. I’m on a mood stabilizer and anti-psychotic which reduces the frequency and severity of my episodes. Though there isn’t anything my medication can do when I’m in the middle of a debilitating manic or depressive episode. Ingesting thc in any form has had positive effects in reducing my symptoms to the extent that I can regain control and function in a more stabilized state of mind. It feels like an emergency inhaler for my mental illness. When I’m depressive, smoking marijuana reduces suicidal thoughts and strong feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and anxiety. When smoking during a manic episode, the manic ‘high’ becomes less present as I feel the high from marijuana. This leads to feeling more relaxed and calm and my mind slows it’s rushing thoughts. During this calm I find I can once again critically self reflect as dissociative and irrational symptoms ease. In a manic state I usual don’t notice any of my classic symptoms appearing, so smoking weed during this time puts a momentary halt on the episode’s progression and allows me analyze my current mental state. I recognize that marijuana produces different effects on everyone, though the execution of this study is one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time.

    • David Denman

      I have Bi polar 2 also and this post is so bogus. it pot actually balances my brain and slows my thoughts and help my adhd and my anexity and my joint pain. i eat healthy and excerise but it not enough i have to smoke or ingest something with cbd and thc in it to funcition better in everyday life.

      • But at what what doses? I’m interested to know about excessive use of cannabis. My (soon to be ex) husband has been taking massive doses of THC and it almost seems to have triggered a manic-like state. I’m wondering if there’s a “sweet-spot” that he blew past and is now actually having a negative effect on his mental health. Since his marijuana use started escalating, he has been canceling psych appointments and talking about going off his antidepressant (which has controlled his Major Depression for 6 or 7 years with few side effects).

        • Reannen Figueroa

          Same goes with my girlfriend. She’s over using marijuana and now I feel like she depends on it and makes her worse. Like she feel as though she’s only happy when she smokes.

          • Veronica Stirl

            That is what happened to my boyfriend. He only felt happy or felt in control when he was high and what I saw was the complete opposite.

        • Veronica Stirl

          omg I am so happy to read your post. I feel so much better knowing I am not alone. I just left my boyfriend because of this.

  • Patricia McMath

    I don’t think it is so much whether or not weed is helpful or harmful for people with a disorder as much as it is where the Doctors you are asking live. In British Columbia there seems to be much more of a positive spin on cannabis use as compared to Alberta. The doctors here are rarely in favour of any use of cannabis for any reason. I have found that incredibly frustrating. The old boys club here tends to frown on anything new and reluctant to change it.

  • Michael Sico

    Medical Cannabis works for people and people with bipolar disorder are people. To try to base it on not being effective based upon 24 people is so laughable that I am laughing while writing this. The western reductionist way of seeing the world is to label, categorize, judge and measure people to try to box them into some category that is not the same as the “NORMAL” people whoever they are. If CANNABIS works and you know it works you don’t need some study to prove that to you. If you have used HIGH CBD Cannabis to stop a psychotic episode or a manic episode then OMG that means it works. Again we want to try to measure things…. How about we measure the devastation caused by ANTIPSYCHOTICS vs. CANNABIS. The people with brains in the stone age need to wake the hell up!!! People are all unique and their lives and perceptions of the world vary greatly. CANNABIS VS. HARSH BIPOLAR MEDS. Not all medications are bad but some can really mess people up and have serious side effects. CANNABIS IS MAGICAL

    • David Denman


      • Kerry Cassidy

        Cannabis makes my bi polar mania terrible. I don’t sleep for four or five days, I wander all over the house trying to make myself go to sleep but I can’t. Not all drugs work for all people

        • Tracy Chabala

          Strains make a world of difference. For anyone with a mental health issue, I think strains with balanced THC and CBD are imperative, at least SOME CBD. The difference between taking Indica with high CBD vs. 100% THC Sativa is kind of boggling.They do the opposite. I have found THC and CBD together work better than any psych med for anxiety/anger/depression, eslecially for acute symptoms. I don’t smoke daily. Thankfully I’m in Cali where it’s even legal recreationally. When smoking high THC Sativas and TOO much of it at once, I got psychotic. It wasn’t regulated weed tho. I can only take one baby hit off a pre-roll. Dosing is everything. Saves my ass.

        • Jennifer Johnston

          Me too..but I keep smoking anyway…cuz i rather feel that way than normal. 😞

        • brandyrenea

          It makes my husband’s worse too but he suffers from bipolar rage frequently . He gets angry with it. May make a difference if you’re trying to help highs or lows, but if you have the rage syndrome it is likely to make it worse.

  • Michael Sico

    Also if they are doing a study for BIPOLAR disorder and HIGH CBD strains have been shown to be effective as anti-seizure and anti-anxiety medications then YOU would think it would have all the people in the study using the most effective form of CANNABIS for the condition being studied. Sometimes Im amazed at the lack of knowledge of humans

  • Ruth Pulver

    would not have survived without discovering this medicine; diagnosed with bi-polar and PTSD, now almost 70, and needing less and less. and yes, one can overdo it also, but through critical times, only “medicine” that took me out of deepest states of despression.

  • Unni Sivasankaran

    My personal experience is micro dosing up to 2-3 times a week will help to completely resolve the “depression” type Bipolar Disorder. I was treated by 4 different psychiatrists with not much relief. Also there was many side effects from their medication. At that point I heard of an aboriginal settlement in Wayanad, Kerala, India, who treat this. It was a 30-day program. We have to stay with them as they won’t come out of the forest. They provided me one small grass roofed wooden hut. Started their treatment with cannabis infused elixirs. Then tapering off it to micro dosing (inhaled or edible). The result was excellent. Now I do micro dosing 3-4 times a week and no other medication. I passed 3 levels of RHCE certifications and got placement in the best company in the state after this treatment. My social, familial relations returned back to normal. The most beneficial part I think is that the achievements I had in my spiritual life after this. Now I am qualified by my “Tantric Gurus” to take classes to the juniors.

    • disqus_7WYBIIgWI1

      How can I find this settlement and attend the program ?

      • Unni Sivasankaran

        Welcome to kerala… There few condition to the treatment as cannabis allowed for religious purpose only in india… U have to undergo some medi chekups before we go… I will help u all through this…

  • defectively

    I was diagnosed in 2010 along with anxiety and PTSD and I cannot be medicated. Low doses of over 20 medications across 7 years have all produced negative side effects including a high susceptibility for tardive dyskinesia on low non therapeutic doses.

    All I have is my minimum of 200mg of lamictal and therapy every week for an hour with a psychiatrist. MJ is also the only thing that helps me sleep. If I don’t smoke daily I will go days without sleep and slip into a steady mania that can lead to outbursts and then deep anhedonia.

    While I remain somewhat depressed on a regular basis the MJ helps me be somewhat “normal” in comparison and I can actually enjoy life. Marijuana also provides the focus I need just to take care of myself and I also tend to not eat when I don’t smoke.

    More research with LARGER pools of patients is required. Mini studies like this are a drop in an ocean of unknown data.

    • JC

      I can say one thing with all of the conviction I have in me, that what I found out in 2015 has a lot to do with mental illness, its triggers and possibly some impact on its origin?? I was afflicted very young, so were my sisters and 2 more generations of our offspring. I can’t get my family to get testing, but I found out by accident, that I had a bad H Pylori infection , which caused gastric symptoms in grade school. Never could concentrate or learn at school, very hyper and depressed. 20 yrs old hit with autoimmune disease, undiagnosed til 2015. Celiac disease, which came from h pylori infection (leaky gut). So after I eliminated the problem foods I feel 20 years younger. Only problem is, the fact that the infection was in me so long, it did a lot of damage. Hyperthytoid, type 1 diabetes, deaf/tinnitus. My hormones were wasted, this may have something to do with the severity of the illness. There are physical aspects that experts don’t put together.. My father always taught me to NEVER trust someone else with your wallet.. Same should go for our health.. Am I nuts? Sometimes.. I’m bipolar 1 with psychosis and all the trimmings.. If I didnt have cannabis I would have suicided years ago…

  • Kym Hamill

    I think the most common mistake is that it’s being looked at as one illness, when it should count as two (where pot is concerned, not in general). I’ve found that I need to smoke completely different strains depending on whether I am hypo-manic or depressed at the time. It is really hard to medicate properly if cannabis isn’t legal where the patient is because they generally have no way of knowing for sure what strain they are smoking. So tbh, unless a study is run where the patients are aware of the strain and know whether they are in a manic or depressive phase and can then smoke accordingly, I take anything I read on BPD and pot with a grain of salt.

    • JC

      You are so right!!! The cheap Mexican stuff actually works better for me. But its tough to find in illegal states. The big dollar stuff makes me feel paranoid sometimes, but it gibes me an appetite..My oldest daughter and her fam live in Colorado, they beg me to move so I can get well.. 🙂 Great info on this post!!!!

  • Derrick N Miranda

    I have BD and I have suffered with it uncontrollably my whole life. I have been through a lot starting from bad desesions I made mostly from BD imposes. I have found that when I’m under low stress levels marijuana helps. The only time that it’s not helping is when I’m in high stress situations and winter months.

  • Ed Cantarella

    Article title”Does Cannabis Help or Worsen Bipolar Disorder?” IMO – worsen. I’ll note that many of those commenting are on prescription mood stabilizers or anti-psychotic, so their results are tainted by that. My opinion is that cannabis can push one toward an episode, particularly mania. Between hiding usage, scoring stash and effects of the weed itself all causing stress, I think things can snowball for those with BD. As some others have noted, the cannabis canparticularly become a problem during winter months (tying in with SAD?) and times of high stress.

    • When people can go quietly to a nice shop and buy quality cannabis,without the paranoia,it becomes the medicine it is.
      In my country its illegal,so naturally paranoia and anxiety is part of the smoking rituals.
      Paranoia and anxiety is exactly what a bipolar person does not need more of.

  • How can I do my own study? 24 people is not a large enough number to really take these results seriously.

    • brandyrenea

      Do you find yourself angry frequently? Slamming a cupboard because someone else used the cups you like? Yes = only try with a very close friend who will stick it out no matter what the outcome. It may or may not end well. Not well could become violent.
      No? Strong chance you’ll spend the night happy and it could be therapeutic . Personal experience on this one.

  • Samantha Ferrell

    I am bipolar. I can tell you that i think that cannabis helps me out with my high times with manic and my depression stage too. it lets me to rethink things over and i write everything down. I show my doctors and they see the differences with not using and with me using. They agree with me using is better than not using. the medical marijuana is still new and more study’s need to be done with more than a few people with bipolar. everyones bipolar is different.

    • Kerry Cassidy

      Some people can’t even take aspirin. Everyone is so different, I wished I could smoke it but so far I have been hospitalized three times.

  • cerenatee

    I’m bipolar and marijuana makes me hallucinate. It makes everyone I know who is bipolar hallucinate. I can’t stand it.

  • Christa Turnell

    Bipolar is both curable and treatable without dangerous psychiatric drugs. When science recognizes this fact, psychiatry will go the way of the dinosuars.

  • I think you need to be more detailed, more specific in this discussion.
    Cannabis is not a single thing, a single breed.
    And to say “everyone is different” is also too generalized to be useful.

    My son has been diagnosed as Bipolar. Likely BP1.
    Strong potency THC sativa reduces his social anxiety and depression but increases mania.
    Low potency THC hybrids reduce anxiety but does not seem to induce mania unless already present.

    It might be helpful to identify breeds that are helpful at which phase, then tease out THC potency and type, and CBD,CBN,CBG potencies.

  • CK

    Hi, i have Bi polar2, i can get super anxious at times, no sleep, hyper sexed up, to the next moment, crying, can’t wake up and demotivated.
    i have had this for the last 10 years, and have been on meds, Depakin Chrono.
    Cannabis can help me, or make things so much worse… the only thing i noticed, was that each type of weed has a different high.. right!! but the fact that i’m bi polar, which is already hard to cope with, especially for the people around me, smoking weed is honestly not the solution for me personally.. until maybe there is the ONE strain that i can find that makes my life better all round, the fact i’m going up and down, and so are the strains and THC levels, my poor brain is gonna be even more messed up.
    So i’m off the smoking, and enjoying all the other highs of life… Peace and Love!!

  • Sean Reed

    In my experience, if I smoked pot once I would smoke it around the clock IE I became addicted. Then, if I did not smoke pot I would experience a massive rebound of emotions that had been suppressed by the weed. Anger, resentment, mania, etc. times 10. I won’t lie…I loved marijuana, but I love my life and family more.

  • John Smith

    I don’t even buy this study as pointing to a need for more study.. The major problem is that the journals were only kept for one week, the type of bipolar disorder (I or II, rapid cycling or not, etc) hasn’t been differentiated, and the number of participants (n) is very small. I would want to see the entire study, but to me those are the things I would look for first in their analysis of the significance of this research. Also, it is based both on self-reporting and the idea that a manic person would bother to report over a long time with reliability is pretty low.

  • Tracy Chabala

    It can both worsen and help, depending on the strain, dose, THC/CBD content, and mood state of the patient. It’s laughable how simplistic these studies are! Binary thinking! We need more research. High CBD strains with a good dose of THC work well for me while others made me psychotic. THC can cause psychosis and bring on schizophrenia for the predisposed; CBD can stop psychosis and can treat those with schizophrenia. It just isn’t simple. I stayed away from pot for years because of bad experiences. But now that it’s legal in Cali, I can get the proper strains and it’s super helpful.

    • Zero tolerance to cannabis makes it a psychedelic,at least for me.And when i have built tolerance to cannabis,i can enjoy it without the psychedelic trip effect that can be very intense and not really something to look forward to.

  • Earth,our planet is bipolar.The universe is hyperactive,and chaotic forces govern the inhabitants.
    Its not just you,or me,its all of it.Together.A madhouse spinning too fast.
    People need to see the whole picture,not just that tiny tip of the nose.
    It makes me feel better,when i realize everyone is mad on some level.
    For there is not a single normal person living among us,and there is nothing normal about anything.
    Once we eliminate the idea of being normal,we can all relax,and feel so much better.

  • brandyrenea

    My husband is bipolar, and the majority of his cannabis use resulted in uncontrolled anger. He also has bipolar rage syndrome, so that should be taken into account. While it could mellow someone with just the ups and downs (and I’m not simplifying this, I’ve been married to him for 22 years), if they are prone to bipolar rage it may likely make it worse. Good luck to all in what makes you happier healthier individuals.

  • hannah

    How about the two different strains of MJ? There is Sativa and Indica. who knows what kind they each smoked and when and in what amounts…? None of that was controlled.

  • Jeffries’s’s

    Prescription drugs make me feel numb. Marijuana makes me feel joy. I know marijuana affects everyone differently. For me, I’m better able to concentrate and focus on a single task rather than being scatterbrained and thinking about a million different things at once. People laugh at me when I tell them this because obviously it’s not the same experience for them. Maybe even the opposite. But, for having bipolar 2 and adhd, it really seems to help me live a better life. It should be an option for anyone suffering from depression. It should be treated as any other prescription drug. I take multiple pills everyday. If I stop cold turkey, I become a psycho. This is not the case with marijuana. People need to understand how dangerous pills can be. The kids that go to school with a gun and shoot up the place… they were probably taking pills and quit cold turkey. These prescription drugs are powerful and doctors need to stop pretending like marijuana is more dangerous when it so obviously is not the case.

  • works but has to be good !!! i have a life story on it soon over ten years…it works but but …things got to right ..set and setting..

  • Brandon Bute

    I was diagnosed with Type 1 BPD and I can say that out of every medication I’ve tried cannabis effectively kept my mania and depression stabilized. I tried prescriptions combos for a few years and still use Quentiapine to treat mania for sleep. Blue Dream and Purple Dream are strains that help my bipolar and nausea during the day. Purple Dream is my new favorite strain.

  • Rich Lee

    The problem is partially rooted in genetics. There are at least eight known mutations that have to do with mild or serious problems with THC. Two which are associated with psychosis in the form of clinical schizophrenia or severe exacerbation of mania in those with even mild bipolar disorder. I have two young male patients in the past year who experienced this . Both had the two more severe mutations and as result of a series of THC exposures or just one high potency exposure, both were admitted to the psych ward for 72 hours and put on antipsychotics for at least two weeks. It took them over year for the hallucinations to finally resolve. I know that these mutations are also in some members of my family. I have one bipolar nephew that every time he got high, he ended up in handcuffs. I have two other family members who started smoking in their adolescent years and soon became mildly psychotic, which only worsened with age. The expression of this mutation seems to be more common in men, but there are not extensive studies yet. This opinion is mainly from my experience over the last 30 years in clinical practice and input from colleagues who are psychiatrists and therapists. The problem was rare and under-reported when I was young and pot was much less potent, but seems to have worsened as more people with these mutations partake of legal THC products, especially edibles.