It's been widely known in medical circles that if an individual doesn't receive treatment for bipolar disorder, he's more likely to turn to drug use to help cope with the symptoms. But now, a study indicates that drug use may actually increase the chances of a person developing a mental health problem like bipolar disorder.

In fact, according to a study published in August 2007, people who smoke marijuana daily - or even weekly - actually double their risk of developing such mental health conditions as bipolar disorder.

Researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that the risk for such mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder, increased a whopping 40 percent when they smoked marijuana. This study not only examined habitual users, but also those who only use the drug sporadically.

The risk, though, grew with the amount of pot smoked, the study noted. This seems to imply that stopping marijuana use would also decrease the risk of developing such problems as bipolar disorder. Smoking marijuana also raised the risk of schizophrenia and those disorders which included the symptoms of hallucinations or delusions.

Marijuana increases the risk of developing such mental health conditions as bipolar disorder, because it disturbs the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, according to Dr. Stanley Zammit, coauthor of the study and a psychiatrist at the Cardiff University and the University of Bristol in Great Britain.

The study, published in the British medical journal, Lancet, involved analyzing data from seven long-term studies concerning mental health problems like bipolar disorder and marijuana. In all, the studies involved some 61,000 individuals.

Over one's lifetime, marijuana use increased the risk of developing mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, by some 40 percent among casual users. Those individuals who smoked marijuana either weekly or daily faced an increase chance of developing bipolar disorder or other mental health problems by 50 percent.

Some medical experts remain skeptical about the relationship between such health problems as bipolar disorder and marijuana use. They contend that too many variable factors exist that could contribute to the development of problems likebipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder affects between three percent to upwards of 10 percent of the population. Current medical thought indicates that the later one gets diagnosed withbipolar disorder , the more likely it is a person will turn to drugs to help cope with the symptoms.

The hallmark symptoms of bipolar disorder are mood swings that range from euphoric highs - called manic episodes - to emotional lows call depressive episodes. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are several mood-stabilizing medications that can effectively control the symptoms.