Does CBD Oil Help Bipolar Depression

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CBD has been touted to help a number of mental health conditions. Learn if there is any evidence of CBD helping people with bipolar disorder. CBD oil can help stabilize our mood & emotions. Here are the best CBD oils for bipolar & how they can help.

CBD for Bipolar Disorder: Does It Help?

Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with expertise in disability rights, mental health, and pregnancy-related conditions. She has written for publications like SELF, The New York Times, VICE, and The Guardian.

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Erika Prouty, PharmD, is a professional community pharmacist who aids patients in medication management and pharmacy services in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Bipolar disorder refers to a group of mental health disorders that cause extreme highs and lows in mood. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMS), 4.4% of adults in the United States experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.

A person with bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, experiences disruptive mood fluctuations that interfere with their daily functioning in relationships, work, school, and family life. These mood fluctuations usually include both “high highs,” such as mania and hypomania, and “low lows” in the form of depressive episodes.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been touted as a possible way of treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder. While there’s some evidence that CBD oil can help people with bipolar disorder, there hasn’t been enough research to establish its long-term safety and effectiveness.

Learn more about CBD for bipolar disorder, including its safety, effectiveness, drawbacks, and alternatives.

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What Is CBD?

CBD is one of the active ingredients in the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana). Although it’s a chemical derived from marijuana, CBD doesn’t have psychoactive properties like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In other words, CBD won’t get you “high” like THC.

CBD is believed to act on the body’s central nervous system to produce a calming, relaxing effect that could help with anxiety and other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. Some evidence suggests that it also might have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Is CBD Addictive?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there’s no evidence of any risk of chemical dependency or addiction when it comes to CBD.

And while CBD’s legal restrictions vary from state to state, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has legalized its use for clinical trials. One product containing CBD—Epidiolex—was FDA approved in 2018 for use in the treatment of seizures in certain rare childhood epileptic disorders.

You can take CBD in various forms, including:

  • Oils
  • Tinctures (plant extracts dissolved in an alcohol solvent)
  • Tablets and capsules
  • Vaping
  • Edibles, such as gummies
  • Topicals, such as lotions and creams

Because CBD’s legal status varies so widely across the United States, it’s always wise to check your local and state laws before purchasing any product containing CBD.

The Science Behind CBD

CBD oil isn’t yet established as an evidence-based treatment for bipolar disorder. Research is ongoing, with many clinical trials underway.

However, it’s believed that CBD works by acting on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system isn’t yet entirely understood by researchers, but some believe it plays a role in many important functions, such as pain and mood regulation as well as inflammation.

Early research indicates that CBD might serve as a mood stabilizer for people with bipolar disorder.

One 2020 review argues that CBD might be helpful in the treatment of depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder due to its calming, antidepressant effects.

A 2020 clinical trial suggests that CBD could be beneficial as an “adjunctive,” or supplemental, treatment for bipolar depression.

CBD has also been shown to have an anxiety-reducing effect and shows therapeutic potential in the treatment of addictions. This could be beneficial to people with bipolar disorder because many people with mood disorders also have comorbid mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder.

CBD and Its Potential Benefits

CBD is being investigated for use in the treatment of a number of mental health disorders and neurological conditions. These include schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Drawbacks

There are certain drawbacks to taking CBD for bipolar disorder. People who use CBD products might experience a range of side effects, including:

CBD can also interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, and it can affect your liver enzymes.

If you take CBD, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know so they can warn you about any potential drug interactions or negative effects on your liver function. You also shouldn’t drink alcohol if you’re using CBD, as the interaction between the two substances could enhance their sedative effects.

There’s limited evidence in initial animal studies that the male reproductive system could be affected by CBD use. So if you’re trying to conceive, you might want to hold off on using CBD or ask your healthcare provider if CBD is safe to use.

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Also, most products containing CBD aren’t regulated or approved by the FDA. This means that you can’t guarantee that what you buy is safe, pure, or high-quality. A CBD product could contain THC or even contaminants like pesticides, so choose carefully.

CBD Alternatives

There are many evidence-based alternatives to using CBD for bipolar disorder symptoms. Here are some of the many available alternative treatments for bipolar disorder:

  • Medication: There are a number of prescription medications available to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, as well as anticonvulsants and antipsychotic drugs, may be prescribed by a psychiatrist to help regulate your moods.
  • Psychotherapy:Talk therapy with a trusted psychotherapist, as well as support groups led by qualified mental health counselors, can help you work through the emotional and social challenges of living with bipolar disorder.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help people with bipolar disorder by releasing endorphins that improve their sense of well-being.
  • Relaxation and mindfulness techniques: Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, and mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation, can have a calming effect and help you regulate your emotions in times of stress.
  • Sleep hygiene:Insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation can worsen the effects of bipolar disorder. Practicing good sleep habits, such as going to bed at the same time every night, can go a long way in curbing bipolar disorder symptoms.

Summary

Some researchers believe that CBD, a chemical compound derived from marijuana, could be helpful in treating some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.

Early evidence suggests that CBD oil could play a role in regulating mood and alleviating depression. Drawbacks can include mild to moderate side effects like nausea and fatigue, as well as potential drug interactions and negative effects on liver function.

Alternative treatments for bipolar disorder include prescription drugs, psychotherapy, mindfulness techniques, and lifestyle changes.

A Word From Verywell

CBD is widely believed to be safe and potentially effective in the treatment of various mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder. However, it’s not FDA approved as a treatment for bipolar disorder, and research into its benefits and long-term side effects is still ongoing.

If you decide to take CBD for bipolar disorder, make sure to let your healthcare provider know so they can warn you about any potential side effects or drug interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Research on CBD and its potential interactions with other drugs is ongoing. There is some preliminary evidence that CBD could interact with lithium, which is frequently prescribed to people with bipolar disorder as a mood stabilizer. This interaction could potentially cause lithium toxicity, a serious condition.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical compounds (called “cannabinoids”) found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis also contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have psychoactive properties; in other words, it won’t give you a “high.”

The only FDA-approved product containing CBD is a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil called Epidiolex, which is used to prevent seizures in people with two different childhood epileptic disorders. Because most CBD products aren’t regulated by the FDA, it’s important to check the product labels yourself.

Always check your CBD product’s certificate of analysis (COA) to see if it’s been tested for THC and contaminants. Also, CBD derived from hemp grown in the U.S. rather than overseas might be a safer bet in terms of the federal and local testing requirements.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder.

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825-836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

Khan R, Naveed S, Mian N, et al. The therapeutic role of cannabidiol in mental health: a systematic review. J Cannabis Res. 2020;2(2). doi:10.1186/s4438-019-0012-y

Oberbarnscheidt T, Miller NS. The impact of cannabidiol on psychiatric and medical conditions. J Clin Med Res. 2020;12(7):393-403. doi:10.14740/jocmr4159

Singh RK, Dillon B, Tatum DA, et al. Drug-drug interactions between cannabidiol and lithium. Child Neurol Open. 2020;7. doi:10.1177/2329048X20947896

CBD Oil for Bipolar Disorder: Does It Help, Dosage, & How to Use

Bipolar disorder is a condition involving unusual shifts in mood, focus, and energy.

There’s some evidence that CBD can help, but there are a few cautions to be aware of too.

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Bipolar disorder affects between 0.4% and 1.6% of the world’s population, according to recent reports. This means roughly 70 million people around the planet suffer from bipolar disorder to some degree.

There are treatment options available — however, they often come with a myriad of negative side-effects, and often don’t work at all.

Cannabidiol (CBD), has been shown to protect the brain from damage and support healthy neurotransmitter function. Through these effects, it’s believed to reduce the severity of the bipolar disorder and help those affected to maintain a more stable mood throughout the day.

Here, we’ll explore the role CBD plays in maintaining mood, how to use CBD for bipolar disorder, and when to avoid it.

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Let’s get started.

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Updated on October 20, 2021

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The Benefits of CBD Oil For Bipolar Disorder

Using CBD for bipolar disorder isn’t a new concept, and there’s currently one phase II clinical trial underway comparing the long-term effects of CBD with the effects of a placebo in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In order to get to this stage of research, CBD needed to pass similar tests with flying colors. If it failed any of the studies prior to this phase II clinical trial, it wouldn’t have been approved for use in the study.

Previous studies found that CBD offers a clear benefit to mood disorders with little to no side-effects.

The benefits of CBD for bipolar disorder include:

  • Relieves common side effects such as anxiety or insomnia
  • Helps stabilize mood & alleviates depression
  • Regulates the endocannabinoid system (involved with the cause of bipolar disorder)

Although there are clear benefits to using CBD with bipolar disorder, there are some important cautions to be aware of before deciding if it’s right for you or not.

Best CBD Products For Bipolar Disorder

Caution #1: The Type of CBD Product You Use Matters

Some cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, including THC, can actually make bipolar disorder significantly worse. Therefore, it’s critical that the CBD product you purchase contains low levels of THC to avoid this.

For bipolar disorder, it’s recommended that only a high-grade, full-spectrum extract with third-party lab testing to confirm the cannabinoid profiles of the product is used.

The other option is to use a CBD isolate — which contains nothing but active CBD.

Caution #2. Other Medications Need to Be Considered

Bipolar disorder is usually treated with powerful antipsychotic drugs. These medications alter neurotransmitters in the brain. Users need to be cautious when taking other supplements, including herbs and nutritional supplements such as CBD oil because it can be difficult to predict how they interact with prescription medications.

Always consult your doctor before trying CBD for bipolar symptoms to check for drug-herb interactions.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels.

The root of the condition is the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, and others all fluctuate and interact throughout the day to regulate our moods.

Everybody’s mood fluctuates to some extent — we have periods of feeling joy and periods of discomfort and irritability. This is normal — however, in bipolar patients, these fluctuations are far more severe, often making it difficult to perform daily activities such as complete work or socially interact.

The specific neurotransmitters responsible for bipolar symptoms can vary, and in many cases, the exact cause is never truly identified.

This makes the condition hard to treat, and much of the treatment in a hospital is done through trial and error — patients try a drug and wait to see if it produces results. If not, they try the next one in line until they find something that relieves their symptoms.

Bipolar disorder causes episodes of extreme emotion that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks at a time. Episodes can range from mild to extreme.

There are three primary types of episodes experienced by those with bipolar disorder.

1. Manic Episodes

The brain is in a state of hyperactivation, which can make people seem intense or overly happy. During manic episodes, those affected tend to have a lot of energy. They can seem highly motivated and euphoric and tend to develop side-effects such as anxiety and insomnia.

Manic episodes can become dangerous as they can make people reckless and may bring negative side-effects such as paranoia, psychosis, or delusions.

2. Hypomanic Episodes

A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode — but tends to be less extreme. It’s often considered a halfway point between mania and depression.

People experiencing hypomania are often able to continue their normal responsibilities, but find it more challenging to avoid distraction or bursts of anxiety.

3. Major Depressive Episodes

Major depressive episodes are the opposite of manic episodes. It causes those affected to have low motivation. They may feel tired and sluggish and can feel severely depressed. They often go through periods of social isolation, and some experience thoughts of suicide or death.

The Causes of Bipolar Disorder

There’s no single cause of bipolar disorder. It’s a combination of many factors ranging from genetic inheritance to environmental and social influences.

Some of the Known Causes of Bipolar Disorder Include:

Are There Any Treatment Options For Bipolar Disorder?

Treating bipolar disorder is difficult because the cause is hard to determine.

The best treatment for the condition comes in the form of psychiatric therapy to determine potential triggers and underlying causes such as a history of abuse or mental stresses.

Other causes, such as hormone imbalances, should also be tested for and treated as necessary.

In terms of symptomatic support, there are a few pharmaceutical medications effective for treating bipolar disorder.

Medications Used to Control Bipolar Symptoms

  1. Mood stabilizers (lithium, valproic acid, carbamazepine)
  2. Antipsychotics (Abilify, Zyprexa, Latuda)
  3. Antidepressants (Sertraline)
  4. Antidepressant-antipsychotics (Symbyax)
  5. Anticonvulsants (Depakote, Tegretol)

Other Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

  1. Counseling
  2. Hospitalization during extreme episodes of mania or depression
  3. Nutritional support
  4. CBD supplementation
  5. Herbal medicine
  6. Removal of mental stresses
  7. Sensory deprivation
  8. Support groups

How to Use CBD for Bipolar Disorder Safely

CBD alleviates many of the common symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, there are also reports of people who had their symptoms magnified due to cannabis use. This is mainly due to the THC content in marijuana, which is neuro-stimulating and can aggravate symptoms.

For this reason, it’s not safe for people with bipolar disorder to consume marijuana that has a high THC content.

To use this supplement safely, it’s important to find CBD oils, capsules, or edibles confirmed to be low in THC and high in therapeutic CBD.

It’s also crucial that you speak with your doctor before taking CBD for bipolar disorder to make sure the compound won’t interact negatively with the medications you’re taking.

Once your doctor has approved you to start taking CBD to alleviate symptoms of bipolar disorder, you need to find the right product to use and determine the best dose of CBD.

There are many different ways you can take CBD. Here, we’ll discuss the most common options in detail and how they can be used alongside a bipolar diagnosis.

1. CBD Oils & Tinctures

CBD oils and tinctures are the most common forms of CBD supplementation because it allows for simple and precise dosing.

They’re made by mixing a CBD extract with oil. CBD oils easier to consume because pure CBD or cannabis resin comes as tiny crystals or a sticky, oily, resin — both of which make it difficult to measure the dose accurately.

As an oil, the dose is measured by counting the number of drops using the provided dropper.

CBD oils and tinctures come in a variety of potencies. It’s recommended that you choose a potency that best matches the dose you aim to take. Use our CBD oil dosage calculator to find your approximate dosage.

2. CBD Capsules

CBD capsules provide another popular method of consuming CBD. They take away a lot of the guesswork when it comes to dosing and make it easy to take your CBD on the go.

CBD capsules also come in both low-potency and high-potency options.

Many people who take a variety of capsules throughout the day with their other medications or supplements find this form the easiest to integrate into their daily routines.

3. CBD Edibles

CBD edibles are a great option for people who don’t like the taste of the oils or tinctures and want to avoid swallowing capsules.

They come in all different forms — from CBD-infused honey to CBD chocolates.

The only downside to edibles is that the amount of CBD they contain is often unreliable, making dosing inconsistent.

For a condition such as bipolar disorder, it’s important to be consistent with your CBD use — something that edibles aren’t always able to provide.

4. CBD E-Liquids & Vape Oils

CBD vape pens & vape oils provide the most efficient form of dosing because bioavailability through the lungs is much higher than it is through the digestive tract.

Vaping is a good option for people with bipolar disorder because it offers fast relief from symptoms. It’s also one of the most portable methods of taking CBD.

What’s The Dose of CBD Oil For Bipolar Disorder?

Deciding on the right dose of CBD can take some trial and error. Everybody responds to this compound differently, so a little bit of self-testing is needed to find the right dose. This is also the case with most of the pharmaceutical bipolar medications used.

It’s best to start with a low dosage and build up gradually over time until you find relief from your symptoms.

In most cases, people with bipolar disorder won’t start to experience benefits until they reach the medium- or high-strength doses. Some people even require doses outside the listed range. The only way to find out your optimal dose is to test it.

With that said, you can use our dosage calculator below to find the approximate dose based on your weight and desired strength.

General Dosage Ranges for Psychological Disorders
Low-Strength CBD Medium-Strength CBD High-Strength CBD
• Mild depression or anxiety
• Periods of higher-than-average stress
• Daily maintenance dose for asymptomatic bipolar disorder
• Moderate bipolar symptoms
• High stress
• Insomnia
• Depression
• Severe bipolar symptoms
• Anxiety
• Severe insomnia

Most bipolar patients take a medium- or high-strength dose of CBD — however, this can vary from one person to the next.

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