Smoking (Marijuana)

marijuannaLots of folks with depression and bipolar use marijuana to help feel more stable. We like to keep an open mind but we have to say we are not impressed with marijuana as a mood stabilizer. In fact, the closest thing that we can think of in terms of prescribed medications to marijuana (gabapentin or Neurontin) is a medication which was shown in three (suppressed) randomized controlled studies sponsored by the manufacturer of the drug to be LESS effective than placebo. Which is another story, one which ended up costing that company more than a billion dollars in penalties…

The point is that many, many smart folks were convinced that Neurontin helped stabilize their moods.

So, what do we think about marijuana? Well we think that for folks with a primary anxiety disorder and not a bipolar disorder, it is a reasonable treatment (with obvious negative effects on memory, motivation and the lungs) but we encourage folks with bipolar to stay away because it seems in our experience and in the research literature to lead to more rapid cycling and more mixed moods. That isn’t it’s immediate effect, of course, its immediate effect is to feel better, less anxious and less depressed. But for the same reason that antidepressants may not be good for many folks with bipolar, we think that marijuana is not a good choice, it causes more unstable moods.