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Can Marijuana Cause Panic Attacks, Even if You’re “Cool?”

Weed is cool, “chill” people smoke it. The media says its awesome. So when you’re one of those people who freaks every time you smoke it’s embarrassing. People say “you just have to chill out more and you won’t have a panic attack.” For some people that may be true, but there are very chill, relaxed dudes that do not have an awesome reaction to weed.

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That One Kid Who Freaks Out

Marijuana has loads of benefits. It works as a painkiller, relaxes a person, can increase creativity and much more. It’s hard to think of all the adverse side effects of marijuana when there are loads of articles about how our old pall Mary J is not as bad as we were raised to think it is.

marijuana and anxiety

Yea, now we know all the positive aspects of the “relaxing” substance, but we probably shouldn’t forget that one drug can’t relax ’em all! Marijuana can actually increase risks for anxiety and panic attacks.

If a teacher walks into a room full of high school or college students and asks “who here gets anxiety and panic attacks from weed,” not one student will lift up their hand. Weed is cool, “chill” people smoke it. The media says its awesome. So when you’re one of those people who freaks every time you smoke it’s embarrassing. People say “you just have to chill out more and you won’t have a panic attack.” For some people that may be true, but there are very chill, relaxed dudes that do not have an awesome reaction to weed.

Does Marijuana Cause Anxiety and Panic Attacks, Even if You’re ‘Cool’?

The debate about whether or not Marijuana can help people with panic disorders and anxiety is one that seems like it’ll never end. Some people say that it does help while others say it aggravates these existing issues. But before we get into using our subjective experience to explain the way weed works, let’s look at some research.

Studies show that people who do not have a history of anxiety disorders are able to moderately intake marijuana and not experience any anxiety. However, after using marijuana for long periods of time, the non-addictive drug can cause some withdrawal symptoms when they quit. These symptoms include irritability, trouble sleeping, and cravings. The withdrawal symptoms are also linked to temporary anxiety and panic attacks.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety

People suffering from panic attacks and anxiety feel an increase in symptoms when they smoke weed. This is true, especially, if the person never smoked before. When these people smoke for the very first time, they either get an immediate high or feel the effects about a half hour later.

When the effects of marijuana do start to kick in, it causes people with anxiety to have a negative experience. While the rest of the crew is relaxing, they start to feel dizzy, overwhelmed, and light headed. When an already anxious person feels these things, it can send them right into a panic attack.

Weed & the Sense of Imminent Doom

For some people, the symptoms get so hectic that they end up heading to the hospital after a few hits of weed. Reports reveal a recent increase in the number of people that go to the emergency room because the marijuana freaked them out.

Dr. Larry Bedard is a physician who used to work at the American College of Emergency Physicians. He says that part of having an anxious reaction is the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. “So a lot of people come in (to the hospital) thinking they’re dying when they’re actually having a panic attack,” Dr. Larry Bedard says.

He went on to explain how unfortunately normal it is to feel this way after smoking a joint. “That’s very common. If you’re smoking a joint and suddenly you can’t breathe, and your chest feels tight, and you start to get numb and tingly, you start to think you’ve been poisoned,” said Dr. Bedard.

History of Anxiety + THC, Probably = FREAKOUT

A majority of the anxiety symptoms result from using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical found in marijuana. THC and Marijuana are pretty complex. While there are ample studies describing their calming effects, there are not as many studies that check just how they aggravate anxiety and panic disorders. Depending on the dosage of marijuana, it’s almost clear that people who already deal with anxiety will result to even more anxiety and or a panic attack.

So if you’re a super chill person who had a history of anxiety in the past, you might actually lose your “cool” once you start using the drug. It is true that a person needs to learn how to relax more if they smoke weed and freak out. However, it’s also true that someone who successfully worked hard on managing their anxiety might need to face it again after a run-in with weed.  

The Conclusion in Modern Terms

Your friend is still “good vibes” if they don’t react well to weed. It’s the weed that “brings on the bad vibe.”