Weed Panic Attacks

If you have been experiencing panic attacks, you understandably want to find an effective treatment. During a panic attack, you may feel highly uncomfortable and unsettled. You may have trouble breathing, and your heart rate may increase dramatically. Some people have the sensation of choking. Scary thoughts, including those about death, may occur. These thoughts, combined with the physical symptoms of a panic attack, can make them terrifying for the individual in some cases. Identifying the cause of panic attacks is an essential first step for many people. While weed is commonly associated with easing anxiety, the reality is that it may be contributing to the problem.

Does Weed Help Anxiety or Cause It?

When you consider when your anxiety started or worsened, you may be able to tie that with the start of or increased use of marijuana. In some people, anxiety reduces anxiety and fosters a sense of relaxation. However, it can also make people more sensitive to body sensations and may even cause new sensations to be felt. In addition, smoking weed can influence thought processes. As a result, the brain may misinterpret those new and increased body sensations. This can lead to anxiety and panic attacks in some people.

cannabis panic attack

You may be more likely to experience anxiety rather than relaxation with cannabis use if you are already feeling stressed or uncomfortable when you start using it. When someone uses marijuana for anxiety relief, there may be a tendency to overuse or abuse the drug. In addition to potentially causing a substance abuse issue, smoking a considerable amount of weed could increase the risk of experiencing anxiety.

If you have decided to stop using marijuana after smoking for an extended period, you may experience the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. As the substance leaves your system, one of the feelings you may experience is increased anxiety. Commonly, anxiety can be intense with marijuana withdrawal. Drug detox and rehabilitation can help you to manage withdrawal symptoms.

The Link Between Marijuana and Anxiety

How weed affects the body and mind may vary from person to person. It may also be affected by the type of marijuana used and your usage history. This may explain why some people enjoy a sense of peace and relaxation with marijuana use, and others experience the opposite effect. It is important to note that some factors are associated with a higher risk of weed-related anxiety. These include using excessive weed, being a relatively new or inexperienced user, and using a more potent strain of THC than your body is accustomed to.

In addition, long-term marijuana users may be more likely to experience anxiety with use. You may have noticed that weed initially made you feel calm and relaxed, but it is now causing anxiety and even panic attacks. It is important to note that long-term marijuana use has also been associated with memory loss and cognitive problems. You should be aware that marijuana can alter a person’s mood. It can also impact inner feelings and even perceptions of surroundings and other people. Because of this, you may be more likely to experience anxiety rather than relaxation while using marijuana if you are already in a poor mood, feeling stressed, or are in an unpleasant environment.

panic attack

Does Weed Cause Anxiety?

Weed is more commonly associated with relaxation and easing anxiety. Because of this, the potential for increased anxiety may be unknown or even misunderstood by many people. However, you should be aware of this possible side effect before you use weed again. These side effects include increased anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental health and psychotic issues. If you have had or are currently dealing with psychotic or mental health issues, there may be an increased risk for weed to magnify them.

While anxiety can make you feel extremely uncomfortable in your skin, this anxiety can magnify into a full-blown panic attack relatively quickly. A panic attack may cause you to think you are losing your mind or dying. In this way, a marijuana-related panic attack may be similar to the effects of hallucinogenic drug use. Severe panic attacks can even result in self-harm.

In some people, weed use may make it difficult for users to process some stimuli properly. This may be a root cause of why those individuals experience panic attacks and psychotic issues while using marijuana. For others, weed use causes the brain to uptake dopamine as quickly as it should. This issue may be particularly problematic for regular pot users. Dopamine is responsible for creating excellent or positive feelings. Because the brain of a marijuana user cannot react appropriately to dopamine, there may be an increased risk of anxiety and depression. This type of reaction to weed is most common in habitual users.

How to Recognize Panic Attacks

Anxiety can cause irritability, fatigue, a sense of doom, lack of focus, insomnia, and other effects. However, these symptoms may become more pronounced when anxiety escalates into a panic attack. Other symptoms may also appear. Be aware that the specific symptoms of a panic attack can vary by person. Some common symptoms associated with a panic attack are sweating, chills, a rapid heart rate, tunnel vision, dizziness, numbness, weakness, tingling in the arms and legs, a sense of doom, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Some of these symptoms are associated with a perceived threat and result in the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.

How to Handle Panic Attacks

If you believe you have a panic attack, keep in mind that a panic attack is a challenging experience but cannot hurt you. It may feel as though you are choking or having a heart attack, but chances are that this is not the case. The intensity of the sensations and feelings may cause you to think that you have overdosed, but overdosing on this drug is almost impossible. It is easy to lose yourself in the sensations of a panic attack, but try to remember that these feelings will pass. In fact, for most people, a panic attack may only last 30 to 60 minutes. The actual timeline may be on the longer end with edibles and the shorter end if the drug is inhaled. It can also vary by person, strain, and other factors.

Your surroundings while using marijuana can impact your reaction to it. Anxiety and panic attacks may be more likely in a relatively stressful environment. Because of this, removing yourself from the environment or situation can be very helpful if you begin noticing anxiety symptoms or panic attacks. Deep breathing and the use of a meditation or relaxation app can help. In addition, grounding exercises, such as cuddling a pet, sitting on the ground, and naming different things associated with the senses, may work well.

While some people may be more susceptible to experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, such as because of their environment or usage history, the reality is that everyone who uses marijuana is at some risk. Because of this, the only surefire way to ensure that you do not have a marijuana-related panic attack or anxiety issue is to abstain from use.

medical marijuana

Alternatives to Smoking Weed for Anxiety

If you have had an adverse reaction when using weed, you may consider some of the many other available treatment options. A variety of medications available through a doctor’s prescription may be recommended. These are CBD, antidepressants, antipsychotics, hydroxyzine, Buspirone, and benzodiazepines. If you want to try other non-pharmaceutical treatments, many are available. These include mindfulness practices, cognitive therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more.

Treatment and Detox

Whether you are struggling with anxiety and other mental health conditions or believe you may be addicted to marijuana or other substances, rest assured that help is available. Allure Detox offers a wide range of detox and treatment programs. Underlying mental health issues can be appropriately diagnosed and treated as part of your treatment. To learn more about the treatment options available, contact Allure Detox for a consultation today.


TL;DR: Yes, weed can potentially trigger a panic attack in some individuals.


  • What triggers a panic attack?
  • What is the most common anxiety disorder?
  • What causes panic disorders?
  • How are panic disorder treated?

Published on: 2022-11-03
Updated on: 2024-06-19