Can CBD Oil Help With Bipolar Depression?
What is bipolar depression?
Formerly known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is a brain sickness that causes radical shifts in mood, activity levels, energy, and that affects the ability to deal with daily life.
It's been a very thoroughly documented sickness throughout the centuries but we still do not know how to successfully treat it. Current science considers this illness to be genetic. It can be triggered or worsened by substance abuse.
This condition is characterized by contrasting mood changes. A bipolar person can be elated and energized at a point, but then go down, feel hopeless and depressed. This "down" stage is what we mean by bipolar depression. It is not an emotional condition. It's a physiological illness caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that science cannot understand yet.
In general, the "up" stage is known as manic and the "down" stage is known as depressive. These extreme mood swings are the condition's hallmark.
Bipolar disorder comes in four different varieties:
- Bipolar I disorder: this is diagnosed when there is evidence of manic episodes that actually last at least for a week or by manic behavior so evident that the person definitely needs immediate hospitalization. These episodes are usually followed by a depression that lasts as long as a fortnight. But things are not so black and white on this. Many patients can exhibit both manic and depressive symptoms right at the same time. Some patients may even break away from reality and develop psychosis.
- Bipolar II disorder: this is very much like type I bipolar disorder except that the patient's behavior is not as intense. A patient would not need to have had a manic episode to be diagnosed with this but only a major depressive episode and one hypomanic one.
- Cyclothymia: when many periods of hypomanic are followed by depressive periods over the course of two years or more (one year in children and teenagers) the bipolar disorder is classified as cyclothymia.
- Other bipolar disorders: this category is defined by exclusion. When bipolar behavior shows up that doesn't match any of the prior three categories it's classified as other bipolar and related disorders.
It is very important to understand that each category has nothing to do with intensity. Bipolar type two is not any less serious than type one, they are a merely different diagnosis. A type two patient can be depressed for longer periods than a type one patient which means their impairment to lead a normal life is a lot more serious.
Whatever category any bipolar disorder falls in, it's always considered to be a mood disorder. This means the patient lives with elevated moods that include mania or hypomania and then they alternate with depression. It's all about highs and lows and while there are a number of medical drugs meant to help it and treat it, there is none that can really cure all cases, it's all hit and miss so far. There is an additional problem. Bipolar disorder goes hand in hand with substance abuse too often which means that while drugs can help some patients, sometimes, the risk of substance abuse is huge and it can ruin a patient's life just as much as his own mental condition. And that's true even before you take into account the side effects that these kinds of drugs can have on people.
Can CBD oil help with bipolar depression? We will try to give you all the best evidence available about that in this article, but the first step is to understand the kind of mood swings that can come about with bipolar disorder.
As stated before, bipolar disorder is characterized by radical mood swings that range between mania and depression, let's explore each kind of mood.
Mania and hypomania
Hypomania and mania are different things but they show themselves in the same ways. Mania is worse, it causes more problems at school, work, or social interactions and personal relationships. Mania can be as bad as to turn into psychosis and force a patient to be hospitalized. A typical manic or hypomanic episode will include at least three of the following signs:
- Poor decision-making: going into buying sprees, taking sexual risks or investing foolishly.
- Distractability. If you see somebody dear to you who cannot pay attention to anything at all, like a kitten with a thread ball, pay attention on his behalf.
- Racing thoughts.
- Unusual talkativeness. There's nothing wrong with people seeking to communicate. But you know your loved ones, you know how much they usually try to contact you and others through speech, If it seems too much for you, be aware.
- Euphoria. This is an exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence. Feeling good about yourself is ok. But people usually have to snort cocaine to feel too confident.
- Too much agitation or energy or activity.
A depressive episode would include at least five of these signs:
- Attempting, planning or thinking about suicide
- Indecisiveness, inability to think or concentrate on daily activities
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Restlessness or slowed behavior
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Weight loss that happens when it's not meant to happen
- Lack of interest and pleasure in most activities
- Depressed mood
There are things that can increase the risk of bipolar disorder of any kind. They can be a cause sometimes, or they could be a trigger and it's important to be aware of them and avoid them at all costs, if possible. Risk factors are:
- A first-degree relative who suffers from bipolar disorder. If your mother, or your father, or your sister, or brother, have been through this, you could be right there too. There is no shame in this, but you need to take care of it so that it does not escalate.
- Periods of very high stress. The death of a loved one, the breaking up of a relationship or any other event that causes trauma and pain.
- Alcohol abuse and/or drug abuse.
When to seek help
The main problem with bipolar patients is that they often enjoy the mania periods. They are more productive, they like the euphoria and they don't recognize the depression stage as a real danger to them. They crash, they don't care, because they know they will get some euphoric days just a little later on.
But this doesn't get better on its own. Help, treatment, and medication are always needed if bipolar disorder is going to be brought under control. If you can tell you are suffering from mania and depression at different times, you should seek help from a mental health professional that can examine you, diagnose you and treat you. This is not a matter of will, it will not go away on its own, you are going to have to work hard at it assisted by somebody who knows what he's doing.
So the question remains, can CBD oil help with bipolar depression? The jury is still out on that. But so far it seems, according to recent studies, that CBD oil can protect our central nervous system against from acute and chronic neurodegenerative disorders, such as bipolar disorder. These studies seem to show that bipolar disorder could have its physiological origin in oxidative stress and free radical generation. The studies also show that CBD oil has neuroprotective properties that can help people who suffer from this condition as much as any anti-psychotics or antidepressant drugs.
At this point in time, scientists are paying close attention to CBD oil as a mood stabilizer that can really help people with bipolar disorder. It should be considered to be a helpful supplement, not a medical drug. Why can CBD oil help with bipolar depression? Scientists believe it has to do with the endocannabinoid system so let's explore it a little more.
The endocannabinoid system
Your own brain includes a whole sub-system that works on cannabinoids. It's called the endocannabinoid system, believe it or not.
Your nervous system controls a lot of your body's functions, and many of them work because of your endocannabinoid system. Things like cognitive processes, fertility, pregnancy (if you are female), appetite, pain-sensation, mood, memory are functions your body accomplishes by using your endocannabinoid system. It's not a coincidence that some of this functions are known to be related to the use of cannabinoid drugs such as marijuana.
A current theory among scientists is that people with bipolar disorder have an endocannabinoid system that is not working well enough because it's not getting as many cannabinoids as it needs to do its job. So if you question is can CBD oil help with bipolar depression? Current science seems to say it actually does. It's a very simple mechanism but it seems to work better than psychiatric drugs. If a bipolar's patient endocannabinoid system is deficient, and that's why he or she shows those radical mood swings we call bipolar disorder, CBD oil gives them the chemical substances they need to stabilize their endocannabinoid system and, hence, their moods and mental health.
According to the latest studies CBD oil can help with bipolar depression every bit as much as haloperidol, the main drug used today as treatment. It acts as an antidepressant by activating the 5-HT1A receptors and it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. That is not all. Using CBD oil for bipolar depression spares you from all the nasty side effects that come with Haloperidol (nausea, weight gain, drowsiness, dry mouth and potential kidney damage).
Cannabinoids have spent too long a time as a forbidden substance so research on them is still too recent and too limited. But current science seems to support the idea that cannabinoids can help a lot in bipolar depression, among many other things.