Anxiety Community
23k Members
Avatar universal

Marijuana=Panic attacks and Anxiety?

Hi, first time poster looking for some help and answers. Im a 19 year old male who has used the drug marijuana for the past two years heavily( 2-4 times a day). I would experience a very good time from and it would help me relax and chill out form a long day of work ect. Then one night i used the drug and started to experience a rapid heart beat, hot flashes, it was hard to breathe, which i then found out was a panic attack after visiting the ER. I didnt think much of it untill a week later when i smoked again and expereinced another panic attack which was like the first one but a little more intense with a since of losing control i ended up falling a sleep while trying to control my breathing. It has been two months since having a panic attack because i have stopped smoking. However, i think i am experiencing some anxiety. For example, headaches, tingling sensations, feelings that i might have a panic attack, always thinking somethings wrong with me, and their has been some problems with my bowel movements which i heard can be cause by anxiety. so any answers, help, or support would be wonderful. Thanks.
50 Responses
585414 tn?1288944902
Yes these are common after effects. I would speak to a psychiatrist for more advice about follow up. They should mitigate in time but a consultation would be a good idea regardless.
669746 tn?1228602745
yea i smoked weed for 8 years straight then boom, same thing that happened to you.countless trips to the ER for chest pain shortness of breath,feel like your gonna die all the time.ive had blood tests,echos,x-rays, and its all good, just that youll never smoked weed for a long time or if ever again.welcome to this hell we all live in.if you have questions were all here

Avatar universal
Any drug use can increase one's anxiety.  The best thing you could is stop.  Marijuana can increase your long term anxiety exponentially in my opinion.  Have you ever thought of getting counseling for your anxiety/drug use?  They often go hand in hand...let us know how it goes!
Avatar universal
My first panic attack came when I smoked marijuana for the first time in my life. It can most definitely cause it if your body is sick of losing control. If you must smoke weed once in a while, I would decrease the amount of weed you smoke to around 2 or 3 hits.
657036 tn?1229927156
i used to smoke a lot of weed without problem and after about a year i would suddenly have the most horrible panic attacks after smoking a bowl. my psychiatrist has told me that, most likely, the chemistry of my brain has altered and it simply triggers my anxiety. also, i find that if i smoke within a few days of abusing a chemical (e, coke, k, etc) the panic attack will be worse.
i've learned to avoid it and i seem to have a better time without it so abstinence is most likely your best bet.
good luck
Avatar universal
I know exactly what you mean and the same happened to my brother. When I was in high school I would smoke and laugh my brains out, -But; Soon after high school it was way different. Bad Bad anxiety attacks! I have been on lots of benzos since- But the panic attacks stopped when I finally quit smoking pot. I am now 30, and have many friends who experienced the same scenario; when entering adulthood. Though, not as many people experienced anxiety quite as bad- as I. No E.R. trips, but same shift from: Fun Buzz to...Tachacardia! ~Amber
Avatar universal
I fainted after a bong hit last night. I got very high and introverted and started zoning in on a feeling in my chest that I have and then i passed out cold. I feel scared now. Been smoking the good stuff for years, I think I'm just going to stop because that was no fun. I've fainted 3 other times, all when I was high, all the same feeling. Weed just isnt for everybody, and maybe its not for me. I tell people that all the time.

The more I talk about my problems, the better I feel though which leads me to believe I just tripped myself out.
Avatar universal
Hello there,

I've been smoking pot for about a year and two months now. I usually smoke it on occasion, but all through the month of November, I smoked it every day (sometimes twice a day) and I have gotten panic attacks due to the amounts I was smoking. It's rare that I get a panic attack while being high because that's the exact reason why I smoke weed; is to ease my panic disorder. It does happen though.
717859 tn?1230246679
I've had the same thing happen a couple of times. The only difference is I also have PTSD! The worst time was a couple of days ago, I had just got done smoking a reallllly fat blunt and I was washing the dishes and BAM it came out of no where. I felt my heart beating so fast, I thought I was going to die. I just started walking around the house, and telling myself that I was just stoned and I needed to calm down. When that did nothing I tried to have my boyfriend help me, but he was of no help. So, finally, after what seemed like a hour of hell, I started doing the dishes and daydreaming about World of Warcraft. After I stopped focusing on the panic attack and on something else, I felt better.

My only main worry is having another one out in public, or some place where everyone would know. I'm really ashamed of it. Oh, and being on acid and having a PTSD flashback. That's another big one.
717920 tn?1231610381
I'm exactly the same, I'm 18 and have been smoking weed since I was about 14, when I started smoking I whited occasionally, which never really bothered me and continued smoking regardless but about 2 years ago I started feeling like I have some terminal ilness constantly, and I can't smoke now. The anxiety didn't start while i was smoking but now if a smoke, which i still do (i don't know why) 95% of the time i feel like my heart is beating really fast, even if im just lying around. i dont understand whats wrong with me.
Avatar universal
I do not smoke marijuana for that very reason. I have generalized anxiety disorder and  I have to take medication for it.   I never smoked much, but I noticed that occasionally I would have anxiety symptoms when I did smoke.  I have not smoked in over 5 years.  I figured that I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy and medication to avoid the very feeling that marijuana gives me, so I decided not to smoke anymore.

Well, I wish you luck as you go through this. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Take Care
Avatar universal
Its from smoking garbage and then actually getting some good smoke. Your body can't handle it. Try taking fewer hits. Also don't smoke till you are high, take a hit or two and let it roll in. If you smoke till you are high it is too much some times. I say smoke up just regulate youre intake.
720876 tn?1230542420
whats going on JD...weed is tricky when it comes to anxiety, im starting to form my own theories about it but all i know for sure is that i have an anxiety problem and that now, every single time i smoke weed my anxiety gets a lot worse...i think it may be because when you're high it intensifies your senses..so if you have any anxiety symptoms while high you feel them more, and in turn think about them and focus on them more because you're high...which tweaks you out a bit and then the anxiety ends up getting worse or developing into an attack...and i don't think its any coincidence that there are so many people that smoke weed on this anxiety forum, it seems very likely to me that smoking weed causes anxiety problems..
Avatar universal
There have been recent studies that have linked marijuana use to anxiety and full fledged panic disorder.  In fact, I was discussing this with my psych doc and he informed me that in the last two years he's had to hospitalize quite a few of his patients due to this.  Personally, I was panic disorder free for two full years.  However, due to taking care of a terminally ill parent, I used MJ nightly to relax after the day.  My panic disorder came back, though not as badly as it did the first time.  The good thing is that with medication AND the discontinuation of using MJ, the panic attacks will cease.  Also, this is not our parent's marijuana.  It is way more potent, so be careful.  For me, just like kjmeow, being anxiety free outweighs the short high I got from MJ.

721601 tn?1230610963
HAHA We are all in the same boat  and i'm glad some others are with me I smoked every day as a matter of FACT I only went less then 50 days of not smoking in 5 years  I would smoke 10- 20 blunts a day some times, I loved smoking and then BAM! one day I got a mean panic attack I was shaking so bad and just could not stop thinking i was going to die kepts feeling like i was going to pass out/blackout throw up even did throw up I was in FL and got on a plane within an hr and flew all the way home to MI with my family thats how bad it was your not alone anyone that is wondering  or that is stoned right now freaking out MOST likely it is a panic attack and everything below is true    heart racing shaking even blurry vision or feeling like your going to pass out  all just apart of the proses  and YOU ARE FINE there are things that will help you online just go look at them alot has helped me the best thing for a panic attack when it is happening first timers forsure is to go research what is happening during a panic attack and understanding what is going on during the panic attack that will calm you down ALOT    If it keeps happening when your smoking the best cure is to do what i did STOP SMOKING easy as that   although I still now battle anxiety 3 times a week avg because of that one day it hit me  sometimes I wake up with it     there are books that do work I was bed ridden for 3 days after FL still the Doc gave me all kinds of meds and nothing helped I read a book online for 80|$ called "Panic Away " took me about 2 hrs to read   and I swear on my life and I'm a 21 year old kid this is no bull **** i X'ed out of the book after reading it and went out and hung of with my friends  (still a little shakey)) but once i new that it could not hurt me and what was going on     it was easy to turn it off when i have small outbreaks             sorry for this long novel  everyone i'm really on here for a bump i have on my head but this struck my attention because this was just last year i had my first panic attack   hope i can reassure someone or something
Avatar universal
so i'm 18, i smoke pot almost daily and have since i was like 15...and i don't just take a few hits, i smoke till i'm high. which could be my problem after all. but last night i smoked kush with my boyfriend and i don't remember what happened after the last hit..i think i must of lost reality and i could hear him talking to me but not really it was kind of echoed and slurred. then i like realized it and i freaked out and my heart was beating extremely fast and i was shaking..and i didn't know what was going on. i was so confused and lost and disorientated. he tried to calm me down and tell me i was just high and i was okay. but this has never happened to me before and it was the worst feeling ever. was it a panic attack or did i just trip out?
723959 tn?1314747825
yep i think it causes anxiety attacks. i would really try to quit if i were u. good luck, when i quit, and the wds were not to bad.
Avatar universal
yeah tell me about it. I will never do it again. It might be one of the other causes to my anxiety besides stress and the ulcer that I'm having. I recently just had my first panic attack (which my doctor says) a couple of weeks ago and all i get now is a tingles and sometimes I feel like my heart will stop.  Hope we all get healthy one day!
675718 tn?1530036633
when you smoke or take meds drink water it lessens side effects-drifter0213
Avatar universal
i can't tell you how anxiety prone i am.  it effects my heart rate, i get sweats, it prevents me from sleeping.  both marijuana and drinking have hurt me, not helped me, so i've learned recently to stay away from both.  everyone once in a while, though, the anxiety creeps up on me.
Avatar universal
I've been a daily user for 25 years and hit on a problem patch a couple of years ago with anxiety attacks on use. I followed the advice here and have not had any since.

Cannabis & Anxiety
The causes of cannabis anxiety and paranoia are both mental and chemical.

Changes in blood sugar levels can be responsible for pretty extreme effects (both good and bad) when you're high, so you have to pay real attention to it if you want to get, and keep, a good high. Too much blood sugar, from eating a lot of candy for example, and you get a rush as the cannabis high and the sugar high combine – but the sugar high is short-lived, and will make you want to fall asleep as soon as your system burns off the excess insulin that all the sugar has forced the release of. Too little blood sugar, and things go from uncomfortable to extremely unpleasant very quickly. As you first start to get high, your metabolism may hike up a notch and cause a sudden dip in blood sugar. That's no problem if you've just eaten, but if you're already on the edge of being hungry without realising it, that first toke can make you feel pretty nasty in less than ten minutes. Never take the chance of getting high when you're somewhere without access to the right kinds of food and drink, just in case. If you have the added 'pleasure' of being a borderline diabetic and you don't know it, you could get into quite a state from just that one first high, if you're not careful.

Many regular cannabis users begin their day's session in the late afternoon as work is winding down, and maybe an hour or two before their evening meal – just at the very time when their blood sugar is already on the wane. If this is you, you'll more than likely feel a lot of the symptoms below within ten minutes or so of getting high. Eat! Better still, make sure that you've eaten well in advance of getting high. Look out for any of the following as indicators of low blood sugar:

Sweating, shaking, anxiety, hunger, dizziness, faintness, pounding heart, personality changes, confused thinking, impatience, numbness of lips and tongue, headache, nausea, blurred vision, slurred or slow speech, convulsions, coldness, white hands and face. Eventually, if it is not attended to, it can lead to unconsciousness.

Adrenaline & Cannabis
A second cause of dope-anxiety is something I term here the 'Adrenaline Cascade'; really a mild form of 'shock'. After any event that has made you anxious, the anxiety causes your system to dump adrenaline (also called epinephrine) into your blood-stream, creating a rapid heart-beat, a growing demand on your BSL, and thus deeper and deeper feelings of anxiety as your BSL levels drop. Of course, you'll usually find these effects uncomfortable or worrying, thus causing the release of even more adrenaline and a worsening of symptoms. This vicious circle of adrenaline release will be increasingly hard to overcome, and the deeper it gets the more likely it is to lead to a 'white-out' due to its depressive effects on your blood sugar.

Many things trigger the release of adrenaline:

Apprehension about potentially bad highs
Stimulants, such as alcohol, caffeine, cocaine, and heroin.
Bright lights
Loud noises
Sugar sensitivity
Abnormal glucose metabolism

Again, do not underestimate the mental effects that adrenaline can cause by itself - irregular heart-beat, palpitations, abnormal behaviour, anxiety and headaches - even before it starts reducing our BSL to a point where it can no longer support full brain function (about 60% of our blood sugar is used by our brains).

Unfortunately, there's very little you can do to remove excess adrenaline from your system once it's in there, and it can only really be counteracted by 'nor-adrenaline', something that usually only our bodies can provide. It can be burned off by exercise, but if adrenaline has caused a very deep dip in your BSL then that may not be a viable option. The only things you can truly do are: eat to get rid of some of the more unpleasant symptoms; or, simply wait it out, knowing that it is a brief physiological effect.

I've seen a number of people offering advice to 'just suck it up and it'll go away' on this particular kind of anxiety and, to some extent that is helpful, as relaxing and trying to be calm will help break the cycle of adrenaline release. On the other hand, if someone is having an intense version of this then relaxing is far easier said than done and, if you should experience the above yourself, then you need to treat yourself as you would for low BSL and remove yourself from any strong stimuli - lights, noises, etc. - that might help promote the effects of the high and further adrenaline release.

If we look at the actions of adrenaline in this respect then the mechanism that prevents this rise becomes obvious (remember that this same effect will be present in anyone who has a burst of adrenaline in their systems, not just diabetics): adrenaline prepares the body for 'fight or flight' in an emergency by increasing the supply of glucose and oxygen to the brain and muscles, whilst at the same time suppressing other less-important processes, digestion in particular. This means that the initial elevation in blood-sugar (through increased catabolism) may be short-lived, and whether it then leads to a later dip and anxiety is dependent on the amount of adrenaline present in the blood at the time. Not only does it reduce the bodies ability to take in new blood sugar to redress the balance, but it increases speedier depletion of stored blood sugar, preventing restoration.

Some people, particularly those with bad diets or who are subjected regularly to stress, may have semi-permanent hypoglycemia (a deficiency of glucose in the blood), resulting in adverse reactions to cannabis through their bodies inability to control adrenaline and/or cortisol through 'adrenal fatigue'.

The Answer
In light of the above, those who know they're already at risk from fluctuating BSL will find that their symptoms of anxiety during cannabis use will be significantly reduced if they can pay full attention not only to those levels before use, but also setting and mood.

Excerpted from 'Cannabis & Meditation – An Explorer's Guide', by Simon Jackson.
Avatar universal
I thought I was having a heart attack or something.  It was so damn scary.  But at the ER, one shot of Ativan, and within minutes I was totally FINE.  

Avatar universal
I'm 15 and I just started smoking a couple months ago. Sometimes I smoke alot, sometimes I don't. One night me and my boyfriend decided to go smoke weed, it was probably my 10th time smoking it. I did 5 or 6 hits and I felt really high, so I told my boyfriend he could have the rest of the bowl. I felt really good, then we had to walk back to his house. I started feeling really weird, everything looked blurred, my boyfriend was talking to him but it sounded like i was in a tunnel, then i passed out and landed in a puddle, i got up seconds later and everything looked green and i could barely function. After I got inside my heart started racing, I couldn't stop shaking, and I kept saying I was going to die. I was sooo scared. I know how you all feel. I smoked after that and nothing happend.
BUT then i smoked again and it happend again.
just not as bad, I didn't pass out or anything. but I did end up having a really bad panic attack.
My boyfriend helped calm me down and tell me i was going to be fine. When i started concentrating on other things I calmed down but my heart was still racing.
Both times this happend to me i took excederin during the day for a headache. I don't know if it has anything to do with it but both times i had a panic attack excederin was in my system. But just remember you have to tell yourself you'll be fine. and redcue the amount you smoke to 2-3 hits =] thats what i did.
and i felt the same old good high i remembered.
I'm thinking about going to a psych though for anxiety.
Well, yeah just don't worry.
Avatar universal
Well maybe my story will also help you feel not so alone. i smoked weed for my first time when i turned 16. i only took a few hits and nothing happened. i tried it a couple more times and until about the 4th time nothing happened. this 4th time, i had bought my own sack for the first time because i have always had problems with insomnia and wanted to see if i could get weed to help me out with that. so i smoked a couple bowls, and when i got in bed, i started feeling the most bizarre tingling hot feeling in my whole body. it scared me which caused my heart beat to raise and i started panicking. i eventually calmed myself down to the point where i could sleep it off but it was definitely not enjoyable.
i eventually shook that time off, and tried getting high again about a week later when sleeping over at my buddys house. i smoked 3 or 4 bowls with my friend, and about 15 minutes after i had started smoking, i walked over to my friends bed, and the best way i can describe it is i just think i blacked out for about a minute. i remember blabbering some nonsense that was really bizarre during that minute but nothing visual comes to mind when im trying to remember. when i came out of the blackout i realized what just happened and it scared the crap out of me. i sat on my friends bed and i started rambling to my friends that i was starting to freak out, and slowly things started turning worse and worse. it seemed as if i was looking through a dark hallway, and everything i saw was going frame by frame very slowly, almost like a strobe light effect. after mumbling a bunch of nervous nonsense to my annoyed friends, i told myself i just had to sleep it off so i tried lying down. i couldnt fall asleep because i just couldnt shake the intensely odd tingling and heat flashes i was having throughout my body. this rambling nonsense and body freakout went on for about a couple hours till i passed out.
i really wanted to get to the bottom of this, because i thought maybe i just got too high to agree with my body, so i smoked again a couple weeks later. i smoked a bowl by myself, got in bed, and got a crazy tingling feeling that i couldnt shake, and basically it was the same exact thing as my first high but way worse. it felt like a body part falling asleep, except it was my face and my throat. i felt like i couldnt breathe correctly and i was scared i would have a heart attack. i then told myself i would never smoke again.
abstinence is probably your best bet kid.
Have an Answer?
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1428180348
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?