CBD is a molecule that represents great potential in the field of mental health. We are already finding that it can help people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and PTSD. Since CBD regulates mood, we can come across multiple studies focusing on its use in bipolar disorder as well. But is CBD really effective in relieving the symptoms of bipolar affective disorder? Studies so far show no direct application of CBD on bipolar disorder. However, what we know about its effects on low mood and poor sleep could be useful for those struggling with the disorder;
Understanding bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder (or bipolar affective disorder and formerly manic-depressive disorder) is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. People who suffer from this disorder alternate between long periods of low mood or depression and manic periods when their mood is extremely good. These brutal changes can make it difficult for them to maintain consistent relationships and cope with their daily lives. People with this disorder often need to be in therapy and/or take antidepressants and antipsychotics. In the most extreme cases, they may have to go to a hospital.
Treatment of bipolar disorder
Because each individual experiences bipolar disorder a little differently, there are many treatment options available. The most common are psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy allows patients to talk about their symptoms, understand the patterns of their disorder, and learn to better manage them. Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, can help patients develop coping mechanisms and routines to help deal with the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Treatments may include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressant. The type of medication and the dose that psychiatrists prescribe depends on the intensity of the symptoms;
Scientists studying the effects of cannabinoids on bipolar disorder began by observing. Bipolar affective disorder is often poorly controlled by prescribed medications. It is true that it usually takes a lot of trial and error before people with this disorder find a treatment that works for them. In some cases, they never find real relief from their symptoms. This explains why many turn to cannabis and CBD as an alternative to conventional treatment options.
How does CBD work for bipolar disorder?
How could CBD be useful for people with bipolar disorder? By acting on the endocannabinoid system, it could regulate their mood, making both depressive and manic symptoms less prevalent. Here’s how it works.
Researchers found that CBD had antidepressant effects through several different studies. This 2014 experiment (link to experiment), for example, found that giving CBD to mice activated certain areas of their brains, making it work similarly to an antidepressant. Another study (link to study) found that CBD showed potential as a fast-acting antidepressant. Unfortunately, there are far more studies done on mice than on humans. That being said, many people report that CBD helps improve their mood. We don’t yet have data to suggest that CBD could ever replace the medications used to treat severe depression. However, it could be a useful supplement to help those who do not get full relief from psychiatric medications.
Sleep is a major problem for people with bipolar disorder. While depressive episodes can lead to lethargy and a greater need for rest, manic episodes often make it very difficult to fall asleep. As a result, people with this disorder find it difficult to develop a stable sleep schedule to help them in their daily lives. With its ability to induce sleep, CBD can help. In a 2019 study (link to study) researchers administered daily doses of CBD to psychiatric patients for over a month. They found that 66.7% responded positively to CBD, reporting better sleep scores in the first month. When you consider that sleep disorders such as insomnia are closely linked to anxiety, it’s not surprising that patients responded well to CBD. After all, CBD is a substance with powerful anti-anxiety effects. As a result, it can help people sleep better by calming stress and agitation.
Products that may be of interest to you
CBD has antipsychotic effects, which have been observed mainly in patients with schizophrenia. But could these effects also help bipolar patients during their manic episodes? The research is not yet conclusive. According to one clinical study (link to study) CBD shows no signs of alleviating manic moods in people with bipolar disorder. However, researchers want to investigate this further as they believe other forms and doses of CBD may be effective;
Risks of using CBD for bipolar disorder
CBD could help people with bipolar disorder feel better during depressive episodes and help them sleep better. But are there any risks? As a substance, CBD has a good safety profile. Across dozens of studies, we’ve only observed some mild side effects from the molecule. For example, it can cause lethargy in some people, cause changes in appetite, and cause digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation;
It is a fact that some people tolerate CBD better than others. However, there are no notable dangerous or life-threatening side effects when taking CBD. The main risk of using CBD for bipolar disorder would be the substitution of CBD for psychiatric medications. Although CBD may be useful in alleviating mental health symptoms, it may not be as effective as other substances that have been the subject of more clinical research. So if you are considering trying CBD for bipolar disorder, consult a doctor or psychiatrist first. And be very careful about replacing psychiatric medications with CBD: it could have some dangerous effects on your bipolar symptoms;