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Thread: Extreme panic/anxiety reactions to marijuana - Discussion

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Default Extreme panic/anxiety reactions to marijuana - Discussion

    Hello all,

    First of all, I wanted to say hi and thank you guys for having this community set up.

    Secondly, I'm looking for others who have had or know people who have had extreme or bizarre reactions to marijuana, and the subsequent problems that develop as a result. I've read anecdotal stories about people having bizarre and severe reactions to marijuana, but I've never actually talked with someone who went through it. My goal is to find someone, or multiple people, with similar stories so we can collectively pool our knowledge, focus on a solution, and help others whom this happens to.

    Brief Story-
    About a year and a half ago, I had a very extreme reaction to marijuana. I was an occasional smoker, maybe smoking 10-20 times ever. This one time was through a bong, and being inexperienced (and sleep deprived) I inhaled way too much and had an acute anxiety reaction/panic attack. I can succinctly describe it as feeling as if I was going mad. I had no control over my thoughts and had a feeling of impending doom. I was debilitated for about 4 or 5 hours. The only thing that got me through it was repeating "It's just temporary, it will wear off." It was a nightmare, absolutely the most horrific thing I've ever experienced. I was aware of the entire thing, I didn't black out or fall asleep.

    In the aftermath, I currently experience many symptoms. I will list them below.

    - Dissociation (most distressing, experienced as an altered perception of reality, as if everything is unreal or dreamy, looking through a fog)
    - Generalized anxiety (this manifests itself mainly in the form of irrational phobias of germs and mind altering substances, among other things. I'm very scared of putting myself in another vulnerable state of mind, similar to the first incidence).
    - OCD (Obsessive thoughts and behaviors)
    - Hyperactivity
    - Insomnia
    - Strange and vivid dreams
    - Brain fog (disorganized thoughts, partially impaired memory, longer brain processing times)
    - Sensitivity to light
    - General malaise

    I have many theories on what may be causing these symptoms. Some of them may seem silly, but I don't want to discount any possibilities.

    Theory #1 - The most plausible, in my eyes, is that an anxiety disorder developed as a result of the traumatizing event. The amygdala, the mechanism in charge of the fight or flight response, has been reset at a high anxiety level and is creating all sorts of strange sensations via confused nerves and chemical imbalances. Instead of happening over a long period of time in which the anxiety levels slowly rise (which may be happening to some of you out there), a single traumatic experience may have the potential to spark the disorder and this is what occurred that night.

    Theory #2 - I read somewhere on a rehab group about someone who experienced something very similar, and he claims to have fully recovered. He says that we experienced a premature "Kundalini awakening", a spiritual awakening. This is called "Kundalini syndrome", Wikipedia has a whole article on it. The symptoms are very similar. He took up meditation and Chakra/yogic energy balancing exercises and returned to normalcy. Not quite sure I'm on board with this one, but I'm not ruling out any possibilities.

    Theory #3 - I received this advice upon talking to a very experienced herbalist. He claims to have extensive experience treating people with similar reactions to marijuana. He describes human personalities as being compound, not singular. These are referred to as ego states, or developmental stages. He cites the commonly heard phrase "One part of me wants to do this, the other wants to do that." He believes that a very young, ego state was activated. This ego state is undefended and experiences a high level of anxiety when activated. Don't know much beyond this except that there exists something called ego-state therapy.

    Theory #4 - Something physiologically changed in my brain and it is no longer functioning properly. I have seen multiple doctors and they all refute this as a possibility. The symptoms don't really match those of schizophrenia or those suffering from psychosis, but I don't really know the details of all the different variations of those conditions and thus can't discard them as possibilities.

    Thanks for reading this far if you have. I know that was a mouthful. I tried to be as concise and relevant as possible. Please share your stories if you have any that may be relevant.

    Suffering from this condition has made me realize just how fragile and important our mental health is. To be clear, I take full responsibility for my actions and accept the consequences of choosing to use marijuana. However, no one should have to suffer through what I've suffered through. In addition to finding the solution for myself, I want to help anyone else who suffers through this strange and unnerving condition.

    Be Well


  2. #2
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    Mar 2012
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    Hi, i can kind of relate to the traumatizing event that you mentioned in theory one, i am scared of flying and had been off weed for 5 days while flying back from Germany. I had been drinking the whole trip and the flight home was my first day sober and realizing i hadn't had a smoke. I had a panic attack on the plane, felt awful and thought i was having a heart attack. I had been smoking weed regular for 6-7 years. I also have developed a few of the other things you have i.e. Disociation, Slight anxiety that something is going to go wrong, Obsessive thoughts, Insomnia and vivid dreams. I started smoking weed when i got back hoping to put these feelings to bed but was unable to so decided to come off the weed altogether. I am on day 17 of being off the weed and i still have alot of those feelings, i have more energy and my memory is slightly getting better but the rest are still there in some form, i did expect this though as other users on the rehab group have said they sometimes dont feel like they are getting back to normal till over 4 weeks but i can definately relate to some of the problems you have mentioned. The panic attack was pretty scary though as i had no idea what was going on!


  3. #3
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    Hi, thanks for your response!

    I think you experienced an acute anxiety reaction, perhaps from the uncomfortable atmosphere when on the plane. It's probably a good idea to lay off the weed from now on, it's really not worth it. A common aftereffect of acute anxiety reactions to pot are dissociative symptoms, according to a few articles that I've read. I think the best thing to do is to understand the mechanisms behind anxiety and to retrain your brain to behave non anxiously. Anxiety is most successfully treated by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other forms of operant conditioning therapy. There are numerous resources on the internet for relatively cheap that can treat anxiety too. I do not think the symptoms we experience are permanent, which I hope brings you some relief. I'd really like to find another person who has been in a similar situation as us and who has successfully eliminated their conditions. I am having difficulty with it, but am optimistic about finally resolving it. Whatever the case, don't feel alone in your condition. There are many people out there that this has happened to, and at least one of them has had to have recovered. If we can replicate what they did, we can recover as well.

    Be well


  4. #4
    Unregistered Cannabis Rehab Guest

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    i had this kind of reaction a few times in my smoking years i found out afterwards its due to smoking weed whilst being in a dehydrated state. The anxiety you felt can start a cycle, mentally, that you are going mad, or that the feeling might come back again


  5. #5
    Unregistered Cannabis Rehab Guest

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    I am on my 3rd time on quitting (for good this time because I have to take a hair test in 3 months for a good job). The anxiety and panic attacks can definitely be debilitating and are the worst part of withdrawal because you think of the most ridiculous things. The first time I quit I did not understand this and I became a super hypochondriac researching stuff on heart conditions brain tumors and various autoimmune diseases etc. It is cyclical because if you feed into your irrational thinking it really only makes it worse. I am a week off the herb for good and I went on a beautiful walk with some friends, great weather, except when walking I kept thinking "oh no I am going to keel over and die and we are way out here in the woods and if something goes wrong I am dead for good" I had these thoughts because I experienced a couple of heart palpitations (which I get a lot when I get anxious) but I just tell myself you know what if I die whatever who cares, just let it go, stop thinking crazy and surprisingly whenever I get anxious from withdrawals that really helps but does not cure it entirely. These thoughts we have are so irrational and hopefully temporary as we get through this withdrawal, I am NOT touching the herb anymore, if I need to take the edge off I am just going to have a glass of red wine or something. The cyclical nature of anxiety and our OCD that is derived from it is just so exhausting and not worth it for those couple hours of blissful loopy happiness, so not worth it.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    I am on my 3rd time on quitting (for good this time because I have to take a hair test in 3 months for a good job). The anxiety and panic attacks can definitely be debilitating and are the worst part of withdrawal because you think of the most ridiculous things. The first time I quit I did not understand this and I became a super hypochondriac researching stuff on heart conditions brain tumors and various autoimmune diseases etc. It is cyclical because if you feed into your irrational thinking it really only makes it worse. I am a week off the herb for good and I went on a beautiful walk with some friends, great weather, except when walking I kept thinking "oh no I am going to keel over and die and we are way out here in the woods and if something goes wrong I am dead for good" I had these thoughts because I experienced a couple of heart palpitations (which I get a lot when I get anxious) but I just tell myself you know what if I die whatever who cares, just let it go, stop thinking crazy and surprisingly whenever I get anxious from withdrawals that really helps but does not cure it entirely. These thoughts we have are so irrational and hopefully temporary as we get through this withdrawal, I am NOT touching the herb anymore, if I need to take the edge off I am just going to have a glass of red wine or something. The cyclical nature of anxiety and our OCD that is derived from it is just so exhausting and not worth it for those couple hours of blissful loopy happiness, so not worth it.
    I had to double check to see if it wasn't me that had posted this! I have been off for 28 days now but i used to think like that all the time in the first few weeks, its not so bad now but still comes into my head at times, for example i was playing 5 a side football last night and kept thinking what if i collapse, its so silly but i just can't seem to shake the thoughts, hopefully they will disappear entirely sooner rather than later. Definately not worth making worse by getting back on the weed!


  7. #7
    Unregistered Cannabis Rehab Guest

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    Hi.

    I smoked weed years ago and never had a problem till one time I experienced the exact thing you described...EXACT!.

    I was konked out in a dirty public toilet not knowing what the Hell was going on.

    I managed to get over it that time after throwing up and a deep sleep.

    I tried smoking again and had the same reaction again, again I slept it off.

    I didn't learn and tried smoking again, thinking it was just a random reaction. This was not the case, I had a couple of drags and I felt wrong... Not at all stoned. I was feeling apart from my body all the symptoms you describe.

    This was around 6 years ago and I have yet to recover. Still feel every symptom.

    Been to the doctors and they have no idea what's wrong.

    I can sympathise with you and hope you find some help, please let me know if you do.


  8. #8
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    I get really bad social anxiety when I smoke pot, which has had a huge effect on me through the years. Ive isolated myself through the majority of my life and even quit jobs because of it. My best friend smoked with me once after i bugged the hell out of him to try it, and he said he felt like he was slipping out of consciousness and losing control of his mind and his body and he described feelings of fear and paranoia. I also had another friend who smoked in high school with me for the first time and got really shakey and nervous and said he thought his head was gonna explode. My stepdad had a similar reaction to it as well. So your definitely not alone,


  9. #9
    Unregistered Cannabis Rehab Guest

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    Yeah I've had a similar reaction as well, three times in total, except the third time I managed not to panic about it because I knew what was going on by then. The symptoms I experienced are quite difficult to put into words, but I remember feeling like nothing was real and everything I touched felt more like a 'presence' than an actual object. It was like I'd completely lost control of my thoughts and actions. I also felt like my feet were flying off and I remember feeling like some of my body parts had been completely cut off. I think the reason why I panicked (and I don't know if this would be the same for you) was more because of these unpleasant feelings and not being accustomed to them. I also remember experiencing auditory, physical and visual hallucinations which also made me panic. I don't know if you got these symptoms as well, but I was just wandering if you had experienced anything along those lines but maybe on a different level or something? But yeah, it's probably a good idea for you to stop the weed, I should've done the first time I had an unpleasant reaction :') I really hope the difficulties you're facing go away soon though, I've been getting some as well, but I think they do go away eventually, just try going on a detox, clear your mind of any toxins good luck!


  10. #10
    Unregistered Cannabis Rehab Guest

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    On my soon to be 3rd week of withdrawals and I feel like I am slowly coming back (like 30-35% normal, finally starting to kinda know how it feels to be a participant in this thing we call 'reality', something I havent fully experience in the past 5 years). But I still feel very off. I am taking supplements and try to keep myself busy. My vision still gets slightly cloudy for a second or two a couple times of days and sometimes I just feel aloof and out of touch with everything, I guess that is the depersonalization/derealization. I do get bouts of anxiety, I get twitches all over my body that come and go, but when I do experience an anxious episode where I get that 'oh no I'm going to get a heart attack any moment now Im going to keel over' feeling I just ignore it and stop thinking about it, that helps to make that mini anxiety panic attack go by faster but not away completely without worsening it by fretting over stupid thoughts of death and hopelessness. I really think all these feelings we have, the visual, hearing etc, feeling lightheaded at moments is our brain trying to come back into equilibrium particularly our neurotransmitters adapting back to their normal levels, this I heard can take quite a while but makes complete sense in what we are experiencing. Anyhow keep the good fight up! I am really curious to see what future research shows us about marijuana in the near future considering its exponential rise in potency and usage among people. Stay strong everyone time heals everything! Keep busy and focus on other things/hobbies/relationships!



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