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Meds Why Does Cannabis Cause Paranoia in Some But Helps Anxiety in Others?

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Why Does Cannabis Cause Paranoia in Some But Helps Anxiety in Others?

Most people can recall a time they got way too high and experienced a bit of a paranoid episode. Sometimes it manifests as mild worrying, and other times you find yourself in the fetal position at the top of a Doritos pile dialing 911 because surely this high will be the death of you (true story, guys). Paradoxically, others use cannabis as a tried-and-true way to annihilate their anxiety. Even PTSDpatients are using medical marijuana to treat stress and panic symptoms with remarkable rates of success.

Why does marijuana have such a polarizing effects on fear and anxiety?

Cannabis and Brain Chemistry
When it comes to cannabis and paranoia, it’s literally all in your head. Cannabinoids (such as THC) bind to receptors throughout the brain, many of which are focused in the amygdala. The amygdala is involved in emotional processing, governing responses such as fear, stress, and paranoia. When THC acts upon the amygdala, it modifies the neural communication for better or for worse.

THC can overexcite the neural pathways and lead to anxiety and paranoia, especially in individuals who are new or unaccustomed to cannabis. The mechanisms by which this happens are still unclear to researchers, but the body’s endocannabinoid system seems to be full of hints.

Put simply, our body contains receptor sites that are not only filled by marijuana’s cannabinoids, but also by naturally-produced compounds called endocannabinoids that act a lot like those compounds found in cannabis. Shortages of these endocannabinoids have been observed in brains that have been exposed to excessive stress and trauma, which could explain why THC has a relaxing, anti-anxiety effect in some people. In theory, cannabinoids from marijuana replenish these regulatory compounds, resulting in a therapeutic effect. This connection has been pertinent in PTSD studies and could hold promising implications for other mood disorders as well.

Pre-Existing Anxiety Affects Your Cannabis Experience
A 2009 review of anxiety and cannabis studies concluded that “frequent cannabis users appear to have higher levels of anxiety than non-users,” and that “a considerable number of subjects developed anxiety disorders before the first symptoms of cannabis dependence.” That led researchers to believe that anxiety-prone people tend to use cannabis as a self-prescribed anxiety medicine, opposing the idea that cannabis is what’s causing the anxiety.

While these cannabis use trends are helpful in understanding broad behavioral tendencies, researchers acknowledge that anxiety is highly individualized based on a number of risk factors:

  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Personality
  • Gender
  • History of paranoid episodes
  • Presence of anxiety disorder
  • Basal anxiety levels
  • Abstinence states
And when you throw cannabis into the mix, a few other risk factors emerge:

  • Frequency of use
  • Dose
  • Cannabinoids
  • Set and setting
While anxiety is no doubt unique and nuanced in every individual, researchers noted that regular users tend to see a decrease in anxiety whereas occasional and new users were more likely to experience heightened paranoia. Anxiety was also more likely to occur in high doses of THC.

It’s impossible to say how cannabis will affect you personally unless you’ve already tried it for yourself, but understanding what biological and environmental factors are at play can certainly help guide you to a better experience.

How to Avoid Cannabis-Induced Anxiety and Paranoia
If you’re susceptible to or worried about cannabis-induced paranoia, fear not – there are ways to prevent, even counter, that anxiety. Here are just a few tips:

  • Try a low-THC and/or high-CBD strain. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that combats anxiety and counteracts THC’s psychoactive effects, resulting in a calmer and more clear-headed experience.
  • Go easy on the dose. Smoking and vaporizing offer better dose control than oils and edibles, so consider starting there if you’re worried about getting too high.
  • Find a comfortable place. Set and setting is pivotal to the experience, so get to a happy place to reduce panic and paranoia.
  • Partner up with the right strain. Every strain has something different to offer on a chemical level, so keep track of which ones worked for you. Sativa strains tend to deliver racier, high-energy effects while indicas tend to be more relaxing.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Hi @momofthegoons - as subject near and dear to my heart, as I have been diagnosed with chronic anxiety (which was a real "so what, I've been this way my whole life" moment....sigh).

Not only is brain chemistry and reactions different from person to person, they also can change significantly over time.

I personally have experienced real terror resulting in an e-room trip caused by starting an antidepressant that worked well for me 15 years earlier.

I vape mostly by myself and mostly at night for pain and sedation so any anxiety I feel isn't really an issue as there's no one for me to feel anxious and self-concious in front of LOL

I have also seen where the effect of MJ changes as our brains age by looking at some other friends who smoke MJ most of their earlier lives but were trying to get back into it for med reasons now that we are old. Two of them had fairly severe anxiety reactions and have not been able to work themselves back into it.
 

420vapezone

New Member
I've found that many Sativas, vaped at higher temps (400F+), send my anxiety and paranoia through the roof.
I used to have a whiteboard filled with notes about temps and vapes and cannabinoids just trying to figure out the specific cause, but eventually found better things to work on.

I still keep Sativas 380F or lower just to keep me (as close as possible to) sane.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
I would tend to agree and find that, in general, Sativas and I don't mix well. I don't really suffer from anxiety but they do make me jittery. Like I've had too much caffeine. I am much better off with a good Indica or Indica Hybrid.

But I've see an Indica wig a person out as well... so I no longer think it's just a Sativa thing. I think how cannabis affects each person is different so it's hard to say what will work best for each individual. It's really a trial and error as to which strain works best for each person. But, that said, I'd start with an Indica if I was suggesting a strain for someone with anxiety. :twocents:
 

Fat Freddy

Well-Known Member
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Cultivating the Witness
Posted September 4, 2013

One way to get free of attachment is to cultivate the witness consciousness, to become a neutral observer of your own life. The witness place inside you is simple awareness, the part of you that is aware of everything — just noticing, watching, not judging, just being present, being here now.

The witness is actually another level of consciousness. The witness coexists alongside your normal consciousness as another layer of awareness, as the part of you that is awakening. Humans have this unique ability to be in two states of consciousness at once. Witnessing yourself is like directing the beam of a flashlight back at itself. In any experience — sensory, emotional, or conceptual — there’s the experience, the sensory or emotional or thought data, and there’s your awareness of it. That’s the witness, the awareness, and you can cultivate that awareness in the garden of your being.

The witness is your awareness of your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Witnessing is like waking up in the morning and then looking in the mirror and noticing yourself — not judging or criticizing, just neutrally observing the quality of being awake. That process of stepping back takes you out of being submerged in your experiences and thoughts and sensory input and into self-awareness.

Along with that self-awareness comes the subtle joy of just being here, alive, enjoying being present in this moment. Eventually, floating in that subjective awareness, the objects of awareness dissolve, and you will come into the spiritual Self, the Atmān, which is pure consciousness, joy, compassion, the One.

The witness is your centering device. It guides the work you do on yourself. Once you understand that there is a place in you that is not attached, you can extricate yourself from attachments. Pretty much everything we notice in the universe is a reflection of our attachments.

Jesus warned us, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Desire creates your universe; that’s just the way it works.

So your first job is to work on yourself. The greatest thing you can do for another human being is to get your own house in order and find your true spiritual heart.

Excerpt from Ram Dass’ newly released book Polishing the Mirror: How to Live From Your Spiritual Heart


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herbivore21

Well-Known Member
Much of what I'm saying here is included in the OP, basically, Dose dependent effects are why.

Small amounts of cannabis resin will relieve anxiety, but higher doses of especially high THC product that is low in other cannabinoids and especially that has certain terpene profiles (that is those that contribute to a racier, more uncomfortable psychoactivty) can indeed cause not just paranoia, but outright panic. I've learned this much to my discomfort through bio-assay, as well as read about this in the literature.

I believe this is mentioned in the large publication from the National Institutes of science, medicine and engineering that I recently posted in the 'Cannabis Research' section.

Many have heard it said about other chemicals that 'the poison is in the dose'. Similarly, the medicine can be in the dose. In this case, Cannabis is IME very effective anti-anxiety medication with the right chemotype and in the right dose. Too much, and you're gonna exacerbate that anxiety :twocents:
 

Killick

Well-Known Member
I don't tend to experience anxiety, not after the first few months of becoming a 'serious' med patient anyways. But I do have a number of colleagues who go through this with regularity (vets, jumping into the herbal alternatives to meds. Anyways...) what seems to work more or less well for new patients is low THC indicas.

Another strange concept, also seen first-hand, is if someone is experiencing some sort of cannabis-related issue, anxiety, dab sweats, whatever, is give them a shot or two of CBD. Dab, subligua drops, or some other form of quick-acting uptake. The results tend to be quite positive...


Quick edit - this just popped into my inbox from Vero Canada... Link to 'Veterans CBD Chocolate Bar are below, but here's from their website under
"Tips for enjoying VERO chocolates"

If you’ve eaten too much THC, it’s a good idea to keep some strictly CBD chocolates on hand as CBD’s confound the THC. It’s considered an antidote that will take the edge off and return balance to your ‘high’.



https://www.verocanada.com/enjoy-re...er&utm_term=0_2e7b6007fc-da43883c44-222426965
 

herbivore21

Well-Known Member
I don't tend to experience anxiety, not after the first few months of becoming a 'serious' med patient anyways. But I do have a number of colleagues who go through this with regularity (vets, jumping into the herbal alternatives to meds. Anyways...) what seems to work more or less well for new patients is low THC indicas.
It depends on your chemovar being used man. This is not just a THC thing (although I have seen literature that suggests that THC alone in higher doses will cause anxiety and discomfort that you would not observe in lower doses in the same individual), some terp profiles can also contribute to increased anxiety/raciness of psychoactivity.

Another strange concept, also seen first-hand, is if someone is experiencing some sort of cannabis-related issue, anxiety, dab sweats, whatever, is give them a shot or two of CBD. Dab, subligua drops, or some other form of quick-acting uptake. The results tend to be quite positive...
This isn't actually strange brother. CBD has serotonin and CB2 activity and is know to be associated with reductions in anxiety generally, as well as that specifically caused by the psychoactivity associated with THC (it is also infamous for getting in the way of the pleasant psychoactivity that people seek from high THC, high terpene cannabis).

As you say, fast acting doses of CBD are the best way to counteract uncomfortable psychoactivity from cannabis medicine.

If you’ve eaten too much THC, it’s a good idea to keep some strictly CBD chocolates on hand as CBD’s confound the THC. It’s considered an antidote that will take the edge off and return balance to your ‘high’.
Actually, I'd recommend dabbing CBD or other rapid forms of dose onset, not eating it. For a start, the original dose of active CBD is not necessarily going to all remain CBD by the time it gets through your gut (due to various kinds of decomposition it'll go through in the gut). For another thing, that CBD will take a long time to relieve anxiety compared to faster acting methods even if enough of that dose of CBD is bioavailable.

As somebody who speaks from experience with anxiety/panic and THC: If you've managed to dose yourself into a panic attack with THC, an edible dose of CBD is not going to provide you with symptom relief until long after the panic attack subsided on its own :twocents: Unfortunately, we need near-instant relief to effectively medicate the worst of anxiety/panic attacks.

I recommend against edible dosing in situations where people are medicating for anxiety, whether you're dealing with high THC meds or high CBD meds. My issues with high cbd meds eaten for anxiety relief are outlined above. THC containing material, when ingested through the gut can be a panicky mess due to difficulties in dosing, and the increased psychoactivity of d-11-THC formed in the gut vs delta-9 THC absorbed through inhalation. Whereas the same dose inhaled or taken in other faster acting ways than eating will be easier to titrate and tolerate and faster acting to boot

Edible dosing definitely has a place in other medical treatment regimens for different conditions of course. I just suggest looking elsewhere for those with anxiety :peace:
 

Shredder

Dogs like me
It depends on your chemovar being used man. This is not just a THC thing (although I have seen literature that suggests that THC alone in higher doses will cause anxiety and discomfort that you would not observe in lower doses in the same individual), some terp profiles can also contribute to increased anxiety/raciness of psychoactivity.


This isn't actually strange brother. CBD has serotonin and CB2 activity and is know to be associated with reductions in anxiety generally, as well as that specifically caused by the psychoactivity associated with THC (it is also infamous for getting in the way of the pleasant psychoactivity that people seek from high THC, high terpene cannabis).

As you say, fast acting doses of CBD are the best way to counteract uncomfortable psychoactivity from cannabis medicine.


Actually, I'd recommend dabbing CBD or other rapid forms of dose onset, not eating it. For a start, the original dose of active CBD is not necessarily going to all remain CBD by the time it gets through your gut (due to various kinds of decomposition it'll go through in the gut). For another thing, that CBD will take a long time to relieve anxiety compared to faster acting methods even if enough of that dose of CBD is bioavailable.

As somebody who speaks from experience with anxiety/panic and THC: If you've managed to dose yourself into a panic attack with THC, an edible dose of CBD is not going to provide you with symptom relief until long after the panic attack subsided on its own :twocents: Unfortunately, we need near-instant relief to effectively medicate the worst of anxiety/panic attacks.

I recommend against edible dosing in situations where people are medicating for anxiety, whether you're dealing with high THC meds or high CBD meds. My issues with high cbd meds eaten for anxiety relief are outlined above. THC containing material, when ingested through the gut can be a panicky mess due to difficulties in dosing, and the increased psychoactivity of d-11-THC formed in the gut vs delta-9 THC absorbed through inhalation. Whereas the same dose inhaled or taken in other faster acting ways than eating will be easier to titrate and tolerate and faster acting to boot

Edible dosing definitely has a place in other medical treatment regimens for different conditions of course. I just suggest looking elsewhere for those with anxiety :peace:

Glad you added the last qualifier. I make cannacaps of thc/cbd at 50/50 for epilespy, PTSD, and nerve aches and pains. I make the caps strong, but if your willing to forgo the buzz, low dosing, or micro dosing works for these conditions fairly well.

In my case nerve pain went away with regular low dose use. But I ain't a saint and enjoy a nice buzz as well, lol. And in my mind most all use ends up being medical anyway. Win win
 

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