Anxiety Following Marijuana Use

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I started smoking weed this summer for about 3 months. Maybe twice a day. Sometimes more. I never had any side effects, and it wasn’t to escape anything, I was back in LA and it was just a way to enjoy the beautiful weather even more. The night before I was supposed to leave I tried a bong for the first time and I tripped really badly. The day after I felt a little off but I was fine by the afternoon. I came back to London and like an idiot I tried a bong again (this is maybe a month later) to see if I could handle it now. I had another similar experience but because it wasn’t my first time tripping, I felt I was more in control but the day after i suffered depersonalization (or I just felt high) but it disappeared within one day. I went home for New Years and saw my old friends, everybody was doing something, they were either in school or at work and I started feeling a little useless subconsciously even though I’ve done more in my life than they have. On New Years I took one hit of a joint and went about my night- everything was fine. Two days later I woke up from a dream feeling dizzy and felt like throwing up. I fell asleep and woke up fine. For a week after, everyday I felt worst and I started having panic attacks (for the first time in my life) and started having anxiety everyday after. I was worried it might have been due to the weed. Anyways its almost been a month since now and im generally okay (my sanity score is 35) but i still dont feel like myself. Or maybe the anxiety and panic attacks were such a huge blow to my “system” that I am normal but I keep over thinking everything and doubting my “realness”. I feel like I have to fight my brain to stop overthinking. The weather is also really depressing here and being 23 im going through a bit of quarter life crisis (which is normal at this age), but the mixture of all this causes me to wake up sad, and today I just started crying just praying to go back to my normal self again. Any idea what’s going on? I feel im going crazy! I also tend to feel more relaxed at night at home.

A. Many people have experienced and described exactly what you are experiencing. Someone smokes weed and then experiences symptoms of depersonalization. The symptoms are disruptive and frightening. In fact, it has become a common concern among those who write into “Ask The Therapist.”

The fact that this frightening experience continues to happen exemplifies the dangers of smoking marijuana. If marijuana were highly regulated and its ingredients were heavily controlled, then perhaps it might be safe. That is currently not the case. The majority of people who use marijuana get it from a drug dealer “on the street.” Any drug purchased in an uncontrolled setting has the potential to be dangerous and can cause permanent psychological or physical damage.

Over time, your symptoms of depersonalization will likely decrease but we can’t be certain. You may want to consider seeing a psychiatrist who might prescribe a medication to assist with your symptoms. You may only need a low dose of medication to decrease your symptoms. Even if you decide against taking medication, it may be advantageous to consult a psychiatrist about your symptoms. Psychiatrists specialize in neurobiology and biochemistry and may provide helpful insight about your feelings of depersonalization. Also consider consulting a psychotherapist. A therapist could teach you coping skills and relaxation techniques to help with your panic and anxiety attacks.

Be careful. I would strongly advise against using illicit substances. Drug use is dangerous and has the potential to cause permanent damage. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Anxiety Following Marijuana Use. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/23/anxiety-following-marijuana-use/