Mental Health and Addiction Research
Ment Health Addict Res, 2019 doi: 10.15761/MHAR.1000174 Volum 4: 1-2
Dronabinol-induced hypomania: A case report and
Shirshendu Sinha1, Audrey Umbreit2*and Charles Sieberg3
1Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic Health System, Southwest Minnesota region, Mankato, MN, USA
2Department of Pharmacy, Mayo Clinic Health System, Southwest Minnesota region, Mankato, MN, USA
3College of Pharmacy Postgraduate Residency Program, University of Minnesota, New Ulm, MN, USA
*Correspondence to: Audrey Umbreit, PharmD, Mayo Clinic Health System
Eastridge Clinic, 101 Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Mankato, MN, 56001, USA,
Received: January 16, 2019; Accepted: January 30, 2019; Published: February
Dronabinol is a synthetic derivative of cannabis that is commonly
prescribed for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting or cachexia
due to HIV/AIDS. Dronabinol and the cannabinoids found in medical
marijuana have complex eects on the central nervous system that can
lead to both positive and negative patient outcomes. Here we present
a case of dronabinol-induced hypomania in a 55-year-old male with
a history of bipolar disorder and substance use disorder. is case
emphasizes the need to thoroughly evaluate mental health conditions
before prescribing medical marijuana or synthetic cannabis derivatives
such as dronabinol.
Medical cannabis is used for a variety of conditions including
chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation
in HIV/AIDs, chronic pain, and spasticity . e safety of medical
cannabis as well as FDA-approved cannabinoids, dronabinol and
nabilone, in those with bipolar disorder warrants further investigation
as previous studies suggest that the use of cannabis may be associated
with exacerbation of manic symptoms . Medical cannabis is available
in several formulations that contain varying amounts of psychoactive
delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive
cannabidiol (CBD) . e risk of developing manic symptoms in
patients with bipolar disorder who use dronabinol, a synthetic version
of THC administered orally, is largely unknown.
Our patient is a 55-year-old Caucasian male who has been following
with psychiatry since July of 2016 for substance use disorder and the
following mental health conditions: bipolar I disorder, generalized
anxiety disorder, PTSD, and intermittent sleep disturbances with no
history of sleep apnea but recent reports of restless legs syndrome.
Other relevant medical conditions include HIV and a history of primary
restrictive eating disorder. He has no history of inpatient psychiatric
hospitalizations or of suicide attempts. In terms of substance use he has
a history of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis use disorder but has been
abstinent from alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances for more than a
year. e patient’s relevant medication list includes: bupropion XL 150
mg daily, quetiapine 300 mg daily at bedtime, and trazodone 50-100
mg at bedtime.
As a result of his HIV our patient was struggling with wasting
syndrome and signicant weight loss for which he was prescribed
dronabinol 2.5 mg twice daily on 5/19/17. At his visit with his
psychiatrist on 7/10/17, his bipolar disorder was noted to be stable. His
dose of dronabinol was later increased on 7/21/17 to 5mg twice daily.
At his psychiatrist visit on 8/1/2017, the patient was found to be in
a state of hypomania, presenting with symptoms including: increased
interest in sex, insomnia and increased animation. His judgment and
impulse control were also noted to be slightly impaired at this visit.
Excluding the dronabinol dose increase, no other medication changes
had taken place and the patient was not using any alcohol or other
To treat the patient’s hypomania, quetiapine was discontinued and
olanzapine 10 mg at bedtime was started to also help with insomnia
and promote weight gain. Bupropion was discontinued, his trazodone
was tapered o, and dronabinol was also discontinued under suspicion
for causing the hypomania. Upon follow up within a month, our
patient’s hypomania symptoms had mostly resolved. He had also begun
gaining weight with the olanzapine and reported improved sleep. He
acknowledged having a feeling of “buzz” while he had been taking the
dronabinol. He was continued on olanzapine 10 mg at bedtime and
continued o the trazodone, bupropion and dronabinol. He continues
to remain abstinent from alcohol and illicit drugs.
e underlying mechanism of dronabinol induced manic
symptoms in those with bipolar disorder remains unclear but may
involve dopamine. Sensitization of the dopaminergic system by THC
is thought to be associated with the development of manic symptoms
in those that use cannabis . THC is associated with increased
dopaminergic cell ring, dopamine synthesis, and dopamine release
when used acutely .
Other medications have been associated with causing manic
symptoms, including bupropion and trazodone, as relevant to our
case [5,6]. However, our patient had previously been stable on these
medications prior to the addition of dronabinol. us, it is reasonable
to conclude that the dronabinol likely caused our patient’s hypomania
Sinha S (2019) Dronabinol-induced hypomania: A case report and literature review
Ment Health Addict Res, 2019 doi: 10.15761/MHAR.1000174 Volume 4: 2-2
In recent years the regulatory status of marijuana for medical and
recreational use has changed in several states . is has led to a
growing population of patients who are using cannabinoids and as our
case report has shown, those with underlying mental health conditions
may be at risk of developing serious adverse eects. A thorough
evaluation of mental health conditions and substance use disorders is
necessary to identify patients for whom the use of medical cannabis or
dronabinol is appropriate.
Dr. Sinha has received grant funding from UCare. Drs. Umbreit
and Sieberg have no disclosures.
No funding received for this case report.
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Copyright: ©2019 Sinha S. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.