It has taken far too long, but we are finally beginning to give mental health issues the attention they deserve. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), almost 10% of American adults had a mood disorder in the last year. This term represents a category of mental illnesses where the underlying issue mainly impacts an individual’s emotional state.
Believe it or not, however, not all mood swings are bad. Some, in fact, can positively impact us in a variety of ways – such as helping us become more effective problem solvers. However, serious mood swings can be a symptom of a condition such as depression or bipolar disorder. The latter was once called ‘manic depression,’ and involves mood swings with at least one incidence of mania. It can also include repeated cases of depression.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world! Anywhere from 2% to 7% of the American population suffer from the condition. Even on the lower end of this estimate, there is a minimum of 5.7 million American adults with bipolar disorder. The suspicion is that there are a lot more, however.
What Are Mood Swings?
As the name suggests, it usually involves an extreme or fast change in your mood. However, mood swings could also relate to minor changes daily. Women with premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder can suffer from mood swings, as can individuals with medical conditions such as dementia, thyroid issues, and schizophrenia.
Mood swings are a typical symptom of bipolar disorder; a condition first outlined by Emil Kraepelin, a German psychiatrist, over a century ago. However, it is now believed that the symptoms were described thousands of years ago. The likes of Galen and Soranus wrote about mania in the second century AD!
Hippocrates, also known as the ‘father of medicine,’ wrote about mental disorders in the fourth or five century BC, as did Arataeus of Cappadocia in the first century AD. In other words, we have known about mental illness and mood swings for thousands of years, but have allowed ignorance and prejudice to allow such issues to be swept under the carpet.
Mood swings are sometimes so subtle that they are barely noticeable. On other occasions, however, a severe mood swing can take place and render the individual unrecognizable in terms of how they behave. A short mood swing is known as an ‘ultrarapid’ one whereas a lengthy one that lasts a day or more is known as an ‘ultradian.’
If you have at seven consecutive days or mania, or four consecutive days of hypomania, you will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mental health conditions such as cyclothymic disorder, major depressive disorder, or dysthymia, can all lead to mood swings. Other factors could be at play, including:
- Hormonal conditions such as the menopause.
- Substance abuse, such as the use of illegal drugs or excessive alcohol consumption.
- A major change in your life.
- Certain medications.
- Your sleeping habits.
- Your diet.
How Do Mood Swings Affect Your Life?
For most of us, mood swings are a part of daily life. They are relatively minor and are usually caused by an external effect as we allow our thoughts to govern our feelings and actions. For instance, if someone cuts you off on the road, you may be filled with rage for a few minutes. Alternatively, you may begin the day with energy and enthusiasm but yet another day of the 9-5 grind wears you down, and you become listless by nightfall.
For individuals with severe mood swings, their entire life can be turned upside down. Imagine a situation where you feel calm and in control. Now, picture the scenario if you suddenly became overwhelmed with depression and began to burst into tears. Knowing that you could suddenly lose control of your emotions is a genuinely frightening feeling.
Individuals in this situation feel helpless, and some become reclusive out of fear of ‘making a fool of themselves.’ It can affect relationships and careers. There are also cases where this loss of control results in a spending spree or a disastrous trip to the casino or racetrack; or else you decide it’s a good idea to do something incredibly dangerous.
Traditional Treatments For Mood Swings
One of the main issues with mood swings is the length of time it takes to diagnose a problem. Back in 2000, it was discovered that people with bipolar disorder could live with the condition for up to 10 years before getting properly diagnosed! In Bipolar Handbook, Dr. Wes Burgess wrote that an astonishing 70% of bipolar patients had been misdiagnosed at least three times before receiving the right verdict.
The rate of suicides amongst people with bipolar disorder is up to 60 times that of the national average. An estimated 30% of people with the condition will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime.
Therapy is one of the most effective methods of treating mood swings but is all too often eschewed in favor of prescription medication. There is all manner of drugs available to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder where mood swings are a major symptom. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, asenapine, lamotrigine, and valproate, are also used to treat bipolar disorder, mania, and severe depression.
The trouble with these drugs is the litany of side effects associated with them, including:
- Thyroid problems
- Weight gain
- Weakness and fatigue
Then there is the small matter of severe side effects when you try to wean yourself off the drug! In recent years, research has discovered that marijuana could be an effective means of treating mood swings, without the associated side effects of Big Pharma’s pills.
Medical Research on Marijuana & Mood Swings
There is quite a debate brewing into whether marijuana helps or hinders patients with mood swings. A review of 12 longitudinal studies into weed use, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) in 2018, looked at the effect of weed on almost 12,000 patients with one of PTSD, bipolar disorder, major depression, or panic disorder.
The review suggested that cannabis use was a ‘band-aid’ solution that made the situation worse in the long-term. It also claimed that “absolutely no study suggests cannabis use as a viable therapeutic strategy for anxiety and depression.” The thing is, there have been few such studies, and the review’s statement is not entirely true.
A study by Cuttler, Spradlin, and McLaughlin, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in August 2018, contradicts the review mentioned above. The team looked at marijuana’s effects on certain mental health conditions and found that weed significantly reduced ratings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
However, there was one crucial caveat: The most effective strains were high in THC and CBD when treating stress, and high in CBD and low in THC when treating depression. In the study, anonymous volunteers entered the name of the marijuana strain they used, along with the severity of the symptoms. Twenty minutes later, they entered how many puffs they had and reviewed their symptoms.
In over 89% of cases, symptoms ratings were reduced, and only increased in 3.2% of cases! The interesting factor is the high CBD to THC ratio. It is believed that high THC strains could exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals predisposed to these conditions. However, CBD could work to reduce the negative impact of THC, which would help explain why strains with ample CBD were so effective.
A 2016 study by Sexton et al. discovered that pain, anxiety, and depression were the top three reasons people used medicinal marijuana. In any case, the Cuttler study found that medical marijuana users enjoyed a near 60% reduction in anxiety and a 50% reduction in depression following a weed session.
For the record, 10+ puffs produced the greatest reduction in stress. Strains with 9.5%+ CBD and 5.5% or less THC were best for depression, while strains with 11%+ CBD and 26%+ THC worked well for depression. Therefore, it makes sense to recommend strains that meet the above criteria when analyzing the five best for controlling mood swings.
5 Best Marijuana Strains For Controlling Mood Swings
1 – Harlequin (The Diverse Marijuana Strain)
As is the case with the traditional attire of the harlequin character, the marijuana strain is eclectic in the extreme. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid with a THC content of 7-15% and a CBD level of up to 15%. Harlequin is a real mish-mash of genetics and is a cross of a Swiss Sativa, Colombian Gold, and indicas from Thailand and Nepal.
Harlequin has been praised as the perfect smoke for unwinding because it alleviates stress without making you feel too tired. Users often report feeling happier and more energetic once they have a few puffs. It also promotes focus, and you may be surprised to feel your level of motivation increase.
The high CBD levels ensure that Harlequin remains popular for its painkilling properties. Aside from treating migraines and joint pains, you can use this weed to treat anxiety and depression. It does all of this without ever threatening to get you extremely high; although novices may be surprised at the effects.
2 – Frank’s Gift – The Mellow Marijuana Strain
This sativa-dominant hybrid is a phenotype of Skunk Haze. It is a strain known for its phenomenally high CBD levels, which makes it a favorite of medicinal marijuana users. Its CBD content can hit 20%, while the THC level remains low at between 1% and 5%; there is little danger of getting stoned!
The high CBD to THC ratio means that Frank’s Gift offers a mellow high that involves a feeling of euphoria, followed by an uplifting sensation. Users report feeling noticeably happier after using this strain. Eventually, your body will begin to feel more relaxed; a process that helps take care of niggling pains and aches.
Frank’s Gift is widely recognized as one of the best medical marijuana options around. It is often used to treat conditions such as tension, muscle spasms, mood swings, and chronic pain. The low level of THC means there is no need to worry about potential side effects such as paranoia.
3 – Harley Mandala – The Balanced Marijuana Strain
Depending on who you believe, Harley Mandala is either a balanced hybrid or a slightly sativa-dominant one. It is also known as Mandala #1 and grows best outdoors when exposed to lots of sunlight. Harvey Mandala is a cross of a South African Highland Sativa, a New Zealand Purple Indica, and a North Indian Sativa.
With an average THC level of 5-6% and a CBD content of 8-9%, it falls neatly into the best combination for depression as per the Cuttler study. It is a mellow high that helps calm the mind and ease any pains you may have. A feeling of bliss soon takes over and provides you with energy and motivation.
Harvey Mandala is popular for treating depression, chronic fatigue, stress, anxiety, and mood swings. The citrus scent is alluring, while the apple aftertaste is delightful. This is the ideal strain if you need a morning pick me up, or a little boost in the afternoon. Your body feels relaxed, but you’re still likely to remain productive.
4 – Cannatonic – The Reliable Marijuana Strain
Cannatonic is a strain capable of providing you with a psychoactive buzz that never threatens to overwhelm. It is a cross of G13 Haze and MK Ultra and is a balanced hybrid. Cannatonic was specially developed for medicinal use and has a CBD level of 12% against between 7% and 15% THC.
The high is light and mellow but doesn’t last as long as potent strains. Users report feeling ‘lighter’ after a few smokes, and Cannatonic helps you feel uplifted and happy. It is a good option for an evening smoke because you get the all-important feel-good sensation without the associated burst of energy.
It is an excellent healing strain by all accounts, and its clear-headed high allows you to go about your daily business if need be. Cannatonic is used to treat aches and pains and is known for keeping a person focused. If you suffer from chronic stress, this strain enables you to remain productive while still feeling relaxed and chilled out.
5 – Sour Tsumani (The Calming Marijuana Strain)
This slightly sativa-dominant hybrid is a cross of NYC Diesel and Sour Diesel. It was developed by the famed breeder, Lawrence Ringo, who was part of the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective. Ringo created Sour Tsunami to help with his back pain because he didn’t want to use his typical medication.
It was one of the first marijuana strains in the United States to be bred for medicinal use. Depending on the cut, the THC content can range from 1% to 10% while the CBD usually remains consistently in the 10% to 11% level. It is not a strain that will provide a psychoactive high, but Sour Tsunami users will feel the full analgesic effects of this strain.
Sour Tsunami is definitely a daytime strain for medical use. As well as being used to treat chronic pain, it is sometimes prescribed to patients with epilepsy and its associated seizures. It is also used to treat depression and anxiety because it helps improve your mood without providing a high.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana & Mood Swings
Despite what the scathing NIH supported review says, there IS some evidence that marijuana is useful for individuals with mood swings. However, it is important to note that practically all positive findings have related to strains with a healthy dose of CBD.
According to the data we have so far, it is a combination of THC and CBD, along with the hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes, that could help if you suffer from mood swings. This is why we have focused on strains with a reasonable CBD to THC ratio.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? FIND OUT HOW SOME STRAINS MIGHT ACTUALLY PROVOKE PARANOIA AND MANIA…
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