cannabis induced anxiety paranoia

Cannabis & Paranoia: How Weed Can Induce AND Battle Anxiety

Weed’s effects can be pretty heavy at times. As most consumers have experienced a moment in time in which they got too high and felt somewhat paranoid. This cannabis-induced paranoia can feel like a light discomfort. But can also feel like you’re about to jump out of a plane without a parachute; pretty freaking anxious. Meanwhile, some people use cannabis as a proven method to battle their anxiety and stress. Why does cannabis have such a polarizing effect on fear and anxiety?

Cannabis In The Brain

If we look at the physiological side of cannabis-induced paranoia, it’s safe to say ‘it’s all in your head’. As cannabis’ active compounds – cannabinoids like THC – bind to receptors throughout the body and brain. A high concentration of these receptors in the brain are found in the Amygdala. The region of the brain tasked with processing emotions and controlling the body’s responses to fear, stress and paranoia. By acting on these receptors on the amygdala, THC is able to stimulate its neural communication in a positive or negative way.

Basically, THC can overexcite the nervous system. Possibly resulting in anxiety or paranoia, especially in people who’ve never used cannabis before – or do not use it on a regular basis. Although conclusive research on what mechanism actually causes this is yet to be done. The body’s own cannabinoid system, the endocannabinoid-system (ECS), seems to hold the answers.

cannabis anxiety paranoia
Cannabis-induced paranoia can get pretty heavy. [Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash]

Endocannabinoid System

The human body contains countless receptors that can be filled with cannabinoids from cannabis. Together, they make up our ECS. Though cannabis’ cannabinoids are not the only substances that fit on those receptors. As they’re actually the landing sites for the body’s own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Dopamine and the body’s ‘happy molecule’ anandamide, are two of the best known endocannabinoids.

Research shows that brains that are exposed to trauma and extreme stress, can have a shortage of these compounds. Theoretically speaking, cannabis’ cannabinoids balance out this shortage by replenishing the body with the vegetal form of these substances. A connection often seen in PTSD studies and possibly holding promising implications for other mood disorders.

Self-Medicating With Weed

It appears ‘frequent cannabis users have higher levels of anxiety than non-users’. According to a 2009 review of various studies on the correlation between cannabis and anxiety. Though researchers further conclude ‘a considerable number of subjects developed anxiety disorders before the first symptoms of cannabis dependence’. Resulting in the belief that people who are prone to anxiety, often tend to use cannabis as a self-prescribed medicine to battle it. As opposed to the theory that cannabis is the cause of the anxiety.

joint self medicating anxiety
Cannabis appears to be the nr. 1 chosen self-medication for anxiety-patients. [Photo by Chase Fade on Unsplash]

Although this info helps us to put some behavior into perspective. Researchers also emphasize that anxiety or weed-induced paranoia is different per individual, based on a variety of risk factors:

  • Genetics
  • Character
  • Gender
  • Mental history
  • Basal anxiety levels

Throwing cannabis in the mix however, gives us more risk factors to consider:

  • Frequence of use
  • Dosing
  • Chemical composition of used strain
  • Setting

Avoid Cannabis-Induced Paranoia

Anxiety is undoubtedly unique for every individual. Though researchers note they tend to see a decrease in anxiety in regular cannabis users. Occasional and new users though, are more likely to experience paranoia or heightened anxiety. This also occurs with higher doses THC.

Are you sensitive to cannabis-induced paranoia? Don’t panic. As there are ways to prevent and counter anxiety caused by weed:

  • Try a low THC or high CBD strain like our Compromise CBD v1 – CBD is a non-psychoactive substance found in cannabis. Proven to battle anxiety and counteract THC’s psychoactive effects.
  • Micro-dosing – It is easier to dose your consumption in a joint – or better yet, using a Weezy smoking pipe – as opposed to using edibles or concentrates. So why not try the ‘Nespresso of smoking pipes’ for the ideal high?
  • Get comfortable – Because being at peace and consuming at a happy place can help reduce cannabis-induced paranoia and anxiety.
  • Find the right strain – Each cannabis variety provides a different effect, dependent on the chemical make-up of each strain. As you can read in this blog, sativa strains often deliver a racy, high-energy effect; compared to calming and relaxing indica dominant cannabis strains.
  • Use CBD Supplements – As stated before, CBD can counteract THC’s psychoactive effects. Therefor it might be useful to balance your THC intake with regular CBD consumption – in the form of CBD Oil, Melt Tablets or Edibles – to balance out THC’s negative side-effects.

[Image: Photo by Itay Kabalo on Unsplash]