Bipolar disorder affects between 0.4% and 1.6% of the world’s population. Statistically, this means roughly 70 million people around the planet suffer from a type of bipolar disorder in various degrees. You most probably know someone with a bipolar mood disorder, it may even be someone in your family.
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during the teen years or early on into adulthood. Rarely, bipolar symptoms can also manifest in children. Bipolar disorder can also first appear during pregnancy or after childbirth. As symptoms may vary over time, bipolar disorder usually requires lifelong treatment.
What is Bipolar Mood Disorder?
Bipolars have two distinct periods of extreme emotions. The manic phase wherein one feels elated or extremely “up”, and the depressed phase wherein one feels hopeless, or extremely “down”. Manic phases can also be characterized by being highly irritable, or overzealous while depression can be shown as indifference.
Bipolar Mood Disorder was formerly called manic depression. It is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. These mood shifts can impede one’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
Mental illnesses have not always been received positively by the public. The media has portrayed people with mental illnesses as crazed lunatics with the sole intention of harming others or themselves for so many years. It is only recently that mental illnesses became more nuanced and a more acceptable topic of discussion as people are opening up about their mental health.
Bipolar affective disorder is often poorly controlled by prescribed drugs. Cannabis use is common in patients with this disorder and anecdotal reports suggest that some patients take it to alleviate symptoms of both mania and depression. We undertook a literature review of cannabis use by patients with bipolar disorder and of the neuropharmacological properties of cannabinoids suggesting possible therapeutic effects in this condition. No systematic studies of cannabinoids in bipolar disorder were found to exist, although some patients claim that cannabis relieves symptoms of mania and/or depression. The cannabinoids Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may exert sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anticonvulsant effects. Pure synthetic cannabinoids, such as dronabinol and nabilone and specific plant extracts containing THC, CBD, or a mixture of the two in known concentrations, are available and can be delivered sublingually. Controlled trials of these cannabinoids as adjunctive medication in bipolar disorder are now indicated.