A recent study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggests a significant link between marijuana use and the onset of mania in those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The study examined 2,391 individuals who had exhibited the symptoms of mania. The researchers determined that the onset of mania was significantly predicted by concurrent cannabis use. It is not clear, however, what about the biological pathways of marijuana use may impact mania. While mania is oftentimes associated with euphoria, productivity and creativity, it can be potentially destructive in individuals who experience intense anger and aggression during such episodes. Understanding the relationship between cannabis use and the onset of mania is thus of the utmost importance.
The study is important in light of how commonly used a drug marijuana use, particularly during adolescence, when the brain is still developing and particularly susceptible to the effects of psychoactive chemicals. Dr. Steven Marwaha, lead researcher of the project, said:
“Previously it has been unclear whether cannabis use predates manic episodes. We wanted to answer two questions — does cannabis use lead to increased occurrence of mania symptoms or manic episodes in individuals with pre-existing bipolar disorder? But also, does cannabis use increase the risk of onset of mania symptoms in those without pre-existing bipolar disorder?…The observed tendency for cannabis use to precede or coincide with rather than follow mania symptoms, and the more specific association between cannabis use and new onset manic symptoms, suggests potential causal influences from cannabis use to the development of mania. It is a significant link…There are limited studies addressing the association of cannabis use and manic symptoms, which suggests this is a relatively neglected clinical issue. However our review suggests that cannabis use is a major clinical problem occurring early in the evolving course of bipolar disorder. More research is needed to consider specific pathways from cannabis use to mania and how these may be effected by genetic vulnerability and environmental risk factors.”
“Cannabis is the most prevalent drug used by the under-18s and during this critical period of development services should be especially aware of and responsive to the problems that cannabis use can cause for adolescent populations.
University of Warwick. (2015, February 10). Significant link between cannabis use and onset of mania symptoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150210160101.htm