Cannabis and Anxiety: The Two Spectrums

Photo by Vortex Farmacy

As a writing activist for cannabis legality and a smoker myself, I often get the question of whether pot takes away mental anxieties, or rather, induces them? Personally, I can safely say I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum.

There are those moments we all experience in which we are stressed beyond control. Whether it be a final exam, an upcoming job interview or what have you, there are different methods each of us use in order to cool off. I enjoy a nice toke off a joint as a means of letting go. Marijuana helps me ease away from my stresses for a short time, putting my mind onto different mediums. It also assures I’ll get to bed peacefully that night.

On the flip side of the coin, there are moments where I’ve gotten high and inevitably, regretted it. For example, when I was younger, I partook in smoking weed with some friends less than an hour before a job interview. I didn’t think it’d be a big deal and that I could handle myself in such a situation. The problem was I really needed a job at the time and wasn’t aware that I couldn’t handle myself. I showed up to the interview sweating bullets, avoiding eye contact and making aimless movements—all while I felt my heart pump out of my chest.

I understand that THC affects everyone differently. And there are plenty of people in this world who can go to a job interview while high and remain comfortably cool. I also realize that pot doesn’t necessarily take everyone’s stress away and, in some instances, can make it worse.

This article intends to explore both sides of the spectrum in order to clarify the phenomenon for people in either situation.

The Brain Chemistry Behind THC

When you inhale a hit of pot smoke, you are affecting numerous areas of the brain—some of which relax muscles, others that are like an engine for creativity and those that influence emotional processing. When cannabinoids enter your brain, they bind to receptors that control the above-mentioned symptoms. The amygdala is one of the most affected parts of the brain, and it is also the key to any paranoia felt by weed.

Though, it should be noted that the amygdala also affects any relieved anxieties.

It’s a two-way road and you can only take one direction. Feeling calm or feeling uncertain. This is why when paranoia sets in, it’s hard to overcome.

THC impacts the neural communications between the amygdala and the rest of your brain. This hypes your emotion to a point that’s going to leave you feeling a heightened sentiment. Some individuals understand this sensation and take it in with full affection. Others aren’t so keen on it and find it rather unsettling, especially new users who have little experience with getting high.

Endocannabinoids that your body naturally produces are the chemicals responsible for relieving anxiety. Through research, it has been discovered that people who’ve undergone much stress and/or trauma—such as those affected by PTSD—naturally produce fewer endocannabinoids. And smoking pot helps stimulate the missing chemicals in their brains. This gives us a small insight as to why marijuana helps relieve stress in certain individuals.

Other individuals who have the normal amount of endocannabinoids—or an overabundance—are only heightening their senses even further while smoking, giving an explanation to why feelings of anxiety may arise.

In the end, what you experience after inhaling THC is inevitably developed by your frame of mind. Being that we all have different backgrounds and knowledge, we’re all going to have different types of reactions to marijuana.

Pre-Existing Anxiety

If you’ve recently been feeling anxious due to smoking pot, there’s opportunity to figure out what the source of the problem i and how to prevent further complications. If you’ve experienced anxiety previously, research has proven that there’s a likely chance you’ll feel further apprehension from inhaling THC. Some research also claims that frequent pot smokers are more vulnerable to feeling recurring instances of anxiety.

When you’re just beginning to try weed, there’s a probable chance that you’ll experience paranoia more so than someone diagnosed with anxiety who’s been smoking for some time. People who use more frequently have built up a tolerance that prevents panicking more sustainably. However, that’s not to say they don’t still experience it. What I mean is the recurrence of panic attacks is more likely to be subsided.

Being that marijuana is a psychedelic substance, the experience mainly affects the brain. Therefore, there are many factors regarding your own mental stability that determine the amount of anxiety you’ll feel while smoking THC. It can be assumed that if you have a past with panic attacks and/or anxiety, you’ll most likely feel even more anxious while high. Yet, you can get deeper into it by looking at your personality, temperance state and vulnerability. To top that off, your experience is also reflected by how much THC you’re inhaling and/or your environment.

If you’ve never smoked weed before and are attempting to research how you’ll be affected once high, you are going to find no answers. The only way to know is by inhaling the substance yourself and experiencing it first hand. However, with the knowledge that your biology and environment will determine much of the experience, you can set yourself up for a more relaxed attempt.

The Best Strains for Relieving Anxiety

What many people don’t realize is much of their paranoia has to do with the THC count of the strain. Obviously, the more THC, the higher one will get. Yet, nowadays there are strains out there designed to prevent anxiety. Usually, these strains contain less THC and more CBD.

CBD is another compound of marijuana that has recently made headlines in the medical industry. It counteracts much of the psychoactivity associated with THC, which leaves you feeling less stoned and more anesthetized. Currently, CBD is being used for a wide variety of treatments including schizophrenia, depression, infections and diabetes. Just to name a few.

The best way to discover which strain is more likely to subside your anxiety is by doing your own research. As mentioned, everyone reacts to marijuana differently. And there are a lot of different factors that go into each strain. Some are more prone to helping those with insomnia, while others have the potential of alleviating depression. Listed below are just a few strain options for you to look into.

  • Granddaddy Purple (Indica) – For general anxiety.
  • Jack Herer (Sativa) – For general anxiety.
  • Girl Scout Cookies (Hybrid) – For PTSD.
  • Strawberry Cough (Sativa) – For social anxiety.
  • Northern Lights (Indica) – For OCD.
  • Blackberry Kush (Indica) – For insomnia.

How to Avoid Paranoia While High

Just as with picking the right strain, there are other ways you can still get high and calm much of your anxiety. More often or not, people who experience paranoia are with their friends who are passing around a blunt or two. Naturally, many of us want to hit that every time it’s our turn. Yet, if you attempt to lower the dose you inhale, you could be helping yourself in the long run.

By taking a single hit, you’ll be able to measure how well you feel without thrusting yourself into a full-on high. One-hitters are great for these types of situations.

With this in mind, you might want to avoid dabs or even edibles. Oil contains such a large amount of THC that there are many instances of people feeling anxiety so bad they get the urge to be taken to the hospital. Edibles, on the other hand, affect you differently than smoking. Since your stomach is absorbing much of the THC, rather than your lungs, the high is very body heavy and hits in a different way. The high from an edible slowly builds up over a longer period of time, while smoking usually only builds up the high for around about a half-an-hour.

Last, but not least, make sure you’re in a comfortable environment.

If you’re ignorant like me, you may end up at a job interview stoned out of your mind and freaking out. But if you set yourself up in a place where you know you can relax and simply enjoy yourself, your experience will feel rewarding rather than consequential.

1 comment
  1. I’m trying different strains, and CBD ratios for anxiety, and panic attacks–in order to take less meds that make sleepy and dopey.

    It is working, but since have had paranoia, and some have sent me on a hallucinogenic trip, I’m leaning towards microdosing with edible CBD ratios, and it seems to be working.

    Purple Kush
    Alive CBD ratio oils
    GSC No.

    Please follow up this topic.
    Thank you

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