With new marijuana laws and weed legalization, it's becoming more and more common to hear about people getting struck with anxiety and panic attacks while consuming cannabis.A panic attack sober is scary enough, so if you're high it can make the experience that much more confusing and harder to handle. So we made this complete guide to help you through it.
Why does marijuana cause anxiety/panic attacks?
This all depends, of course. Your genetics, current emotional state, and what you ate for breakfast will all play a part in how weed affects you.
Somebody could simply be overwhelmed by the intensity of the high. Some people may already be stressed and getting high can often times exacerbate their emotions, causing them to feel emotionally uneasy and anxious. And some people report having problems with anxiety for no reason at all.
I've never had a panic attack.. How do I know when I'm having one?
Consider yourself lucky if you've never had to experience the rath of a panic attack, especially one after eating a strong edible. If you do get struck, you'll probably know... because you'll be flipping out.
Anxiety attack symptoms:
- Racing heartbeat
- Feeling physically weak
- Feeling faint and/or dizzy
- Cold/clammy/numb hands and feet
- Sweating or having chills
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Tunnel vision
- A feeling of terror and that things are out of control
What do I do if I have a panic attack while on weed?
Panic attacks are so hard to deal with because they carry so many physical symptoms that can point to serious medical problems making people believe there's actually something wrong with them (Remember when this cop calls 911 after eating pot brownies he confiscated, and literally thinks he's dying.)
The thing to keep in mind while having a panic attack is that there is no danger. A panic attack CAN NOT hurt you.
A panic attack is basically your body's natural "fight or flight" response responding to a perceived threat or trigger. But you cannot fight or run away from a panic attack, you can only diffuse it.
My heart is racing hard. I think I'm having a heart attack.
Your body thinks there's an immediate danger because of the mental unease, so your heart rate speeds up so it can be ready to deal with said dangers. It's a natural self defense mechanism. Think about how your heart rate jumps up to almost 200 when your exercising and you never actually think something bad is going to happen.
I can't breathe and my chest hurts. I might suffocate.
Most people don't know that the increased rate of breathing during a panic attack causes most of your symptoms like an increased heart rate or stiffness/tightness in your chest.
Grab a paper lunch bag and cover the opening of your mouth with the opening of the bag and create a seal with your hands. Breathe slowly in and out of the bag; this will help regulate gas exchange and in turn, help relieve your symptoms. Your goal should be less than 20 inhales/exhales a minute.
I'm getting tunnel vision.
When your stress response is activated, your vision changes so you can focus better and react more quickly. This is expected and should return to normal.
I think people judge me, and it bothers me to a point where I have anxiety.
Whatever you think people are saying, just remember, nobody actually notices or cares.
This is incredibly common for people to get overly paranoid, especially if they already have a degree of social anxiety. So if you're in a social situation and you start to feel like people are judging you, remember that you're on a mind altering substance and it's causing you to be overly analytical.
You can also smoke in the privacy of your own safe space, or only smoke with people you feel comfortable with.
I've smoked pot for a long time, but I just started getting anxious recently.
Marijuana can sometimes "bring out" the anxieties in somebody, especially if the person has been trying to suppress them.
Chances are, something is causing you more worry than you're giving credit for. You need to do some reflecting and assessing so you can figure out what they are and how you can work on them.
You might want to abstain from weed until you're able to sort things out.
Okay, that's cool.. But how do I prevent anxiety attacks from ever happening?
The best way to prevent a full blown anxiety attack is to try and remain as calm as can be because anxiety tends to have a snowball effect and you don't want to end up being crushed by an avalanche. So make sure you remember to take deep slow breaths, especially if you're starting to feel even the slightest bit anxious.
Another way to stay chill and prevent anxiety from happening is incorporating other herbs into the ganja mix.
Kava kava herb is gaining in popularity with the cannabis crowd because of it's natural ability to alleviate cannabis-induced anxiety and make your high super mellow.
Many cannabis users find kava extracts to be quick and favorable especially when smoking on their equally convenient vaporizer.
I thought weed was supposed to help my anxiety?
For some people it can, but like I had mentioned before, people react differently to substances than others.
If you plan on using marijuana to help with overcoming anxiety, try to get a strain with as much CBD as you can. Also, try microdosing and using much smaller doses and eventually work your way up. You'll have more control and the effects will be more subtle and gradual.
People have been using Marijuana for anxiety for decades and as cannabis laws loosen nationwide, farmers are growing more complex strains specifically for anxiety. Click here to read about how to ensure a positive high with cannabis.
What kind of marijuana should I smoke if I have anxiety?
THC and CBD are active compounds found in weed. THC is known for it's psychoactive effects, the high feeling. CBD is known for its medicinal benefits like anti-anxiety and reducing inflammation.
Put simply—weed with higher THC levels can make you feel anxious, while weed with higher CBD levels can give you a more calming effect. If you're prone to anxiety, use a weed with higher levels of CBD.
Most cannabis is categorized as an indica or sativa strain, or hybrid of the two. The main difference between indica and sativa is that indica provides more of a body high, which tends to be better for anxiety; and sativa is more of a head high which can sometimes accentuate anxiety.
Choose carefully out there and ask where your product comes from, if it has been tested and if it is organic.