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weed makes me overthink

Will Smoking Weed Affect My Anxiety?

This article originally appeared on VICE U.K.

Weed and anxiety have always been entwined for me. My experience of getting high amounts to an unpleasantly increased heart rate, imagining that all my friends secretly think I’m a cunt and berating myself via a cacophony of second-person internal monologues. It took me a bizarrely long time to realize this was not something I enjoyed, but when I eventually did, learning to say no when passed a spliff became the greatest gift I ever gave myself.

Since I never enjoyed weed in the first place, giving it up wasn’t difficult. But many weed users experience a more conflicted relationship with the drug and their anxiety. Weed use can become a symptom, cure, and underlying condition all rolled into one. Using it might worsen your anxiety—in a larger sense—but allow you to feel better in the short-term. This creates a vicious circle in which you’re using a substance to alleviate the symptoms it causes.

WHAT DO USERS THINK?

Amy, 27, a former weed smoker who lives with anxiety, says, “Smoking weed felt like it was positively contributing to my life at the time—it made me less anxious and more at ease about doing things. But actually it was completely destructive because, without it, I would be a complete panicked mess. If I hadn’t used weed, I would have recovered from my severe anxiety period much quicker. Instead, it took me two-and-a-half years.”

It can be difficult to tell whether weed use causes anxiety, or simply exacerbates what was there already. Chris, 22, who developed a panic disorder in his teens after smoking weed habitually, says, “In hindsight, I had always been an overthinking teenager—it’s just how my mind works, and I was able to cope with that in the long-term. Smoking weed definitely made that overthinking worse, though, and more difficult to control. It made me more irrational and irritable.”

The stronger the cannabis you're smoking, the more likely you are to experience adverse side effects.

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  • Blog
    • Cannabis as a Medicine
    • Cannabis Effects
    • Lifestyle
    • Cafe & Bakery
    • CannaAcademy
    • Interview with a Cannapreneur
    • Dry Herb Vaping Guide
    • Benefits Of Vaping Weed
    • How to Choose Your First Vaporizer
    • Vaporizer high vs. Smoking high
    • Conduction vs. Convection
    • Portable vs. Desktop Vaporizer
    • Wax vs. Dry Herb Vaporizers: What’s better?
    • How to Use a Dry Herb Vaporizer
    • Indoors Growing Guide
    • 5 Reasons to Grow Your Weed
    • A Step by Step Guide
    • Step One: Build An Indoor Grow Room
    • Step Two: Germinating The Seeds
    • Step three: The Vegetative Stage
    • Step Four: Flowering Stage
    • Step Five: Harvesting and Drying
    • Step Six: How to Trim Your Marijuana Bud
    • Auto-Flowering vs Feminized Seeds
    • Hydroponic Cannabis Growing Made Easy

    Marijuana and Anxiety – Tips and Tricks To Overcome Your Paranoia While You’re High

    Marijuana and Anxiety

    Tips and Tricks To Overcome Your Paranoia While You’re High

    Wait, I thought weed kills my anxiety? It used to… How come I feel paranoid now when I’m high?

    We wrote this article not only to help other Cannabis enthusiasts to recognize that anxiety is normal but that there’s steps to take control of the situation.

    Sometime ago, I randomly started getting paranoid when I smoked weed. Later, it advanced to a terrible social anxiety when I was around people- even good friends. It was irritating, as I do enjoy smoking weed, and I was not ready to quit- not just yet. Hence, I started researching ways to find a solution for this problem, if there was any. .

    Marijuana and Paranoia, it’s a Complicated Relationship!

    Why does weed make me overthink? As you may know, cannabis triggers certain areas in the brain connected to the feel of fear and emotion. Specifically, marijuana acts on cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala, or the “emotional” part of the brain. This may make you perceive an everyday normal experience, as threatening and anxiety provoking.

    In fact, a study published by Elsevier Inc found that exogenous cannabinoids could influence your stress responses and emotional learning- in other words- influence your anxiety level and fear, even leading to paranoia.

    This sounds contradictory to the norm, right? Stoners smoke weed so they can “chill” and reduce their anxiety, not magnify it. And that’s what makes the relationship between cannabis and paranoia a bit complicated.

    This fluctuation in anxiety can go either way while smoking cannabis (heighten or reduce it). It is important to be aware, therefore, that there are a number of factors that can influence your high experience- and not compromise it.

    For such: your own comfort level (how familiar you are while being stoned), as well as who you’re hanging with at that moment, and where. It also has a lot to do with the strain of marijuana you’re using dependent upon the circumstance and purpose. For instance, the marijuana strain you use to alleviate the anxiety you get when you’re chilling by yourself is not the same marijuana strain you should use to reduce the anxiety when you’re hanging out with friends or acquaintances.

    For Anxiety Relief

    High CBD or High THC / In dica or Sativa

    For anxiety sufferers, this revelation of separating these medicinal compounds for certain situations can be life altering. And for many of us, especially for those who live in legal states, the process is simply putting different cannabis strains in the bowl, vape, doob, or drop of oil- trial and error- and adjusting accordingly.

    Of course, it’s not quite this simple either. I mean, all of the magic in the Cannabis plant is not only due to these two cannabinoids- CBD and THC. There’s a whole supporting cast, a whole team if you will of back-up singers. Also, CBD and THC affect you differently when in the company of these different ratios of these “silent partners” in the healing.

    For instance, the terpenes and other cannabinoids in a sativa strain helps me to wake up and think about things creatively by myself. Whereas, late at night, I’d choose an indica strain to help sedate the body, and induce relaxation (and sometimes even cause a couch lock).

    With that said, if you find that weed causes you anxiety, I would steer you away from pure sativa strains- as they are higher in the THC/CBD ratio- and stick with mostly dominant indica strains. This is also important to note if you’re trying to get rid of your social anxiety when hanging out with friends or even strangers. In this case- a hybrid (indica dominant) strain would be the best choice.

    This is because when it comes to CBD and THC, generally, strains with relatively high CBD are used for anxiety benefit as well as a host of other medicinal effects. I also wouldn’t recommend the high THC strains, if you were that type of person who is normally anxious, especially if you weren’t an “expert” stoner yet- high THC may make your trip miserable. So be careful.

    A study by the University of Western Ontario, London, found that high amounts of THC tend to overwhelm those “sensitive” emotional parts of the brain (as we mentioned the amygdala) – causing us to perceive non-threatening experiences as threatening and anxiety provoking.

    Practice Being Comfortable When You’re High

    1. Find a secluded and safe area, preferably in the nature; hiking trail, natural park, somewhere nice.

    2. Familiarize yourself with the area, before you get high, for the first 15-20 minutes familiarize yourself with the area, find a nice spot where you’ll chill (don’t settle for anything mediocre). Walk around in silence, no music, just look around, take in the environment, and let your mind wander. The reason of doing this is to let any anxious thoughts you may have to come and go, leaving your mind fresh.

    3. Get high, once you’ve found a spot that satisfies you, take your vaporizers or bowl out, and smoke. Don’t smoke too much, only enough to get a good buzz going. You can have music on or go for a walk at this point- but nothing too intense- and try to avoid places you’re not familiar with yet.

    4. Get a bit more high; smoke a bit more for the purpose of beginning to challenge yourself. Remember, you’re not partying here- but engaging in an exercise to help effectively overcome and be mindful of your anxiety.

    5. Finally, and gradually , get out of your comfort zone; from smoking by yourself, to hangout with your good friend, to hang out with acquaintances, to hang out at a public place, etc.

    Once you get comfortable while high when you’re by yourself, the feeling will carry over to be comfortable while high around friends, and eventually around strangers. Just take it slowly. It did it for me, and I think it will do it for you.

    8 Ways May Help to Avoid Anxiety

    How to stop a panic attack while high and how to enjoy weed without anxiety? Remember when you were like “I got high and felt like I was dying” – Haven’t all been there? I know I have.

    Here are some useful tips for you :

    1. Rule of thumb; if you’re feeling nervous before you smoke, those feeling will only amplify after you smoke. Engage in some other type of outlet to alleviate or work through some of that anxiety before beginning to smoke. Go for a run or some other form of exercise.

    2. Bring it down; some substances can bring down the uncomfortable high which sometimes cause anxiety and paranoia. The following natural vitamins and botanicals may help in decreasing the intensity of the high:

    In high dosages, Vitamin C has a calming effect to the adrenal glands functioning, and as a result can help to reduce anxiety with regards to the stress response.

    Consuming a low dose of pure CBD oil (200mg or so);

    SAVING NOTE: Use discount code “30offcbd” for 30% off your first order from our online CBD store; GoodyCBD.

    Take a vitamin B supplement. Niacin (B3)’s function is to increase tryptophan, a precursor in the production or synthesis of serotonin- our calming and feel good neurotransmitter. Vitamin B-6 or Pyridoxine helps to promote serotonin and norepinephrine synthesis which can have calming effects on those experiencing anxiety

    Magnesium: this mineral has calming effects on the body.

    If you chose to vape CBD oil, better to take place before your smoking session, allowing more time for the CBD oil to take effect by the time you’ve smoked your flower. Just remember, CBD acts as an inhibitor to THC, it will also triggers the entourage effect and the body high.

    3. Make plans before you get high; many times I smoke weed, then I found myself bored and thinking “great, now what.” If you have no plans, I assure you that you will feel anxious because you already starting off the high on the wrong foot.

    When you make an activity and have something planned out after you smoke, your chances of enjoying the high are so much higher. It doesn’t have to be hiking and exploring, the good thing, you can’t go wrong with weed, it makes any experience is a great one, just make sure you have plans.

    4. Choosing the right strain is a key to avoid paranoia, you always make sure that the strain you’re consuming matches the activity you’re planing to involve in. There are other methods you can approach to make sure that you’re not getting too high to the extent that you’re feeling paranoid.

    Stick to Sativa, they are known to cause less anxiety. Sativas are also generally opposite of “sleep medicine” a.k.a. Indica. Sativa usually great for social setting or the type of activities where you need energy and not just sitting on a couch and chill. Here are the best strains for anxiety and panic attacks:

    • Granddaddy Purple (Indica) – For general anxiety.
    • Jack Herer (Sativa) – For general anxiety.
    • Girl Scout Cookies (Hybrid) – For PTSD.
    • Strawberry Cough (Sativa) – For social anxiety.
    • Northern Lights (Indica) – For OCD.
    • Blackberry Kush (Indica) – For insomnia

    5. Mircodosing; don’t over medicating yourself; I’m not the only one who experienced something like this: you get more of your weed with less weed. Micro-dosing is basically consuming just the right amount of weed without getting “too high,” whatever that means to you. Just enough to maintain your high throughout your session without pushing your tolerance. If you get too baked then you did it wrong.

    if you were passing around a joint, usually you will be hitting that twice every time your turn comes (puff, puff, pass!), greed and the fear you won’t get “high enough” before you’re out of weed is part of the reason that you keep doing it. Weed now is available, so you don’t really need to do that anymore. By taking spread out single baby hits, you’ll have a better ability to gauge your high. Don’t worry, you will get high enough, and there will be plenty of weed left (I hope).

    6. Avoid experimenting with new consumption methods; especially when you weren’t comfortable with your surroundings. If you’re not used to smoking dab, don’t try it unless you’re very comfortable with who and where you are, something applies for edibles and oil. Those are a man-made substances, THC might be very high that may fuck you up for hours and give you an unexpected trip, especially if you weren’t used to that high of doses.

    7. Furthermore, edibles you may want to try, which has a different affect on the body than smoking. Your stomach will be absorbing the THC, rather than your lungs, which will give a heavy body high and hits in a completely different way. Also, keep in mind that high from edibles builds up slowly over a much longer period of time comparing to smoking weed, so be patient and pace out your edible consumption.

    8. And this is a bonus tip, use a vaporizer. For many people, anxiety and/or paranoia are non existent when they’re vaping instead of smoking the herb. On the contrary of smoking weed, vaping gives a less anxious and more clear-headed high compared to smoking. You’re also able to gauge & regulate your intake way more (and way more efficiently with your herb); gets you high to your preferred point gradually.

    Every puff will get you a little higher so on and so forth. On the other hand, this can vary from a vape to another, but you can definitely pace yourself better on a vaporizer comparing to a bong or even a one hitter.

    Finally, fidget toys can actually be one of the best ways to relieve anxiety and stress. Many of us have anxiety issues in general and it can be hard to overcome. Here are the best fidget toys for Anxiety.

    Now, How to Stop Anxiety When High? Here are 11 Approaches.

    How to stop a panic attack while high and how to stop overthinking when high?

    Think about it this way, how to stop overthinking when high, the answer is distraction, distraction, distraction, and here are few tips :

    1. Meditation helps. Breathing exercises too (which are core to meditative practices). After a few near-freak-out sessions with my buddies, I decided to take few minutes (5-10 minutes) to meditate on my own. Just find a place a way from every one, even if it was the bathroom, close your eyes and try to calm your sense down and not to be high-strung. Try this self-guided mediation.

    2. Join a conversation. Instead of sitting quietly drowning in your thoughts, turn into your most trusted friend and listen to what they’re saying, try to ask questions and engage. Make a conscious effort to listen and participate in the discussion. This will help you to redirect your focus or attention to something other than your paranoia state of mind. Simply, give your brain something to do.

    3. Music and/or TV. Rather allowing yourself to go where your thoughts are taking you, don’t be afraid of spacing out when you’re hanging out with people and suddenly feel anxious and paranoid. If there was a music playing, listen to the music and enjoy it, music and pot go together like peanut butter and jelly

    Another great way for distraction from your unreasonable paranoia is watching something “interesting” on TV. A funny show is recommended, my to go TV show when I’m high is Family Guy, quick jokes and doesn’t need a long attention span. It’s up to you though, I guarantee you that will loosen up and laugh the paranoia away.

    4. Cooking a meal can be a great way to prevent paranoia. Cooking is therapeutic, it will indeed help you to redirect your thoughts to the meal you’re making. An added bonus, you’ll have something (hopefully) delicious to eat in case you get the munchies!

    5. Have a quiet time by yourself, take a break from everyone around you. Go for a walk or even take few minutes in the bathroom if you’re stuck in someone’s house.

    6. Listen To The Inner Dialogue; face your paranoia, don’t ignore it or run away from it. Take a minute alone, go to the bathroom or even a short walk and allow your thoughts to flow freely- this is being mindful and accepting your train of thought and accompanying feelings. Wait for it, wait for it. and suddenly you will find yourself in a completely different mindset.

    7. Consume plenty of pure, filtered water or sip on some Chamomile tea . By staying adequately hydrated, this can help your whole body and mind stay balanced in the face of stressors. Also chamomile has calming, stress-relieving benefits, in addition to anti-inflammatory and anti-depressant properties.

    8. Aromatherapy with Lavendar . Essential oil from this flower has anxiolytic, analgesic, as well as antiseptic and sedative properties. This oil can be added to the bath and used as a relaxant as it is very calming for the body, overall. This oil is delivered through inhalation as it is suggested to exert physiological calming effects on the body and mind in terms of anxiety.

    9. Valerian root. The root of this botanical is used for Anxiety symptom relief as it has pharmacological effects on GABA; aiding in its anxiety reduction properties. Also has been suggested to have therapeutic, calming effects in heart palpitations caused by stress.

    10. Blood sugar. In general when you enter into an anxious state, it could be due to poor dietary. For a quick fix eating fruit (not fruit juice) would help keep your blood sugar a lot more stable and since you’re digesting fiber with the sugar in the fruit it won’t be a high spike and crash .

    11. Finally, black peppercorn! Yep whenever you’re too high, eat some peppercorn and/or smell some pepper (not snort it, just smelling). It calms your high instantly and brings it back to the high you originally wanted. (Source: How Black Pepper relieves Cannabis Anxiety)

    Although generally mild, or even favorable, it is important to be aware of some potential medication interactions with cannabis.

    Cannabis may reduce insulin resistance, therefore actually improving blood sugar control for those whom are diabetic. Although more research is warranted regarding the biological effects of cannabis- this is pertinent info for those whom who have diabetes.

    As the cannabinoid receptors are activated in THC- a cardiovascular stress response is induced- therefore initially increasing blood pressure – while this typically lasts about 10-15 minutes- those taking blood pressure medications should be aware of this interaction and monitor its effects.

    Due to the popularity of cannabis for conditions like anxiety and depression, more research is needed to understand if there is any interaction among THC and antidepressants. The available research on this topic, however, suggests that there are little to no adverse effects with SSRIs and SNRIs. Due to the anxiolytic effects of cannabis, most report a favorable effect in further inducing relaxation, in fact With regards to MAOIs and bentos (sedatives), there could be adverse reactions, however.

    With the growing prevalence of cannabis, research will continue to grow in terms of medications reactions.

    Conclusion

    The Canna-World is evolving so quickly and mad-scientist/ tree-huggers are seed-breeding their little hearts out creating new ratios of indica/sativa dominance in the Cannabis you can buy. In doing this, they’re almost custom making medicine hand-in-hand with Mother Nature. Now, that’s a team I’d like to be on!

    Stay toasty my friends.

    About the Authors

    Lauren Chaunt is a passionate in the alternative medicine field. Lauren has her degrees; (BA) in Psychology Research and (MA) in Clinical Behavioral Health, as well as her M.S. in Human Nutrition. Lauren’s interests lie in empowering others to learn about the role of functional medicine in achieving optimal health and wellness. Lauren lives in Tiverton, RI with her Havanese puppy, Olls. Lauren enjoys being outside in nature, in addition to exercising, painting and reading. You can also connect with Lauren on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook.

    Ayad Maher is a Cannabis Industry Entrepreneur, Blogger & Activist. eCommerce Specialist and Owner of a 420 Life Style Website; Monroe Blvd, an online smoke shop; 421Store, and an online CBD store; GoodyCBD.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

    2 Responses
    Adrian Plant

    February 09, 2018

    It is not the THC responsible for the anxiety associated with the high, the jittery, energy feeling is from the Terpen Lemonline, that is found in higher concentrations in Sativa strains, myrecen is responsible for the couch lock drowsy feeling and is more present in Indica strains.

    Terrie Lynn Lalonde

    Learning how to use this plant has been a process. Thanks for all your guidance and open mindedness

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