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Does Weed Cause Anxiety or Kill It?

Posted on January 09 2019

While many people boast about their cannabis use to control chronic anxiety, other people give the plant a try and experience totally opposite effects. does weed cause anxietyIn fact, one of the most common reasons that people choose not to smoke cannabis is because they say it induces paranoia. In order to dive a bit further into this pot-paradox, you need to understand a bit more about the genetic makeup of the plant. If you refrain from smoking weed because it induces negative feelings, there may be a solution. Making a few tweaks to your routine can be the difference in the immediate onset of paranoia and a calm, joyful cannabis experience.


Does Weed Cause Anxiety?

Well, not exactly. In fact, one of the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD) is actually linked to anxiolytic effects. Because of this, CBD products are popular among people with social anxiety or who just want to calm their nerves throughout the day. One study suggests that cannabidiol may be useful as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Some people may be able to use cannabis in place of normal anti-anxiety medications, but this requires a doctor’s guidance. There’s even significant research that links cannabis to positive effects for people who suffer from PTSD. cannabis for anxietyThat’s not to say that weed induced anxiety isn’t real. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to experience paranoia after getting high. However, paranoia is often linked to the plant’s other common cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is likely due to the way that cannabis reacts with the amygdala, which also controls feelings of fear, stress, panic, and more. THC binds with neural receptors to increase the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. These chemicals, when increased, can prevent norepinephrine production. Because norepinephrine is partially responsible for managing anxiety, this could be a reason that THC causes an anxiety spike for some people.

Sometimes, especially in people who have a low tolerance for THC, the lack of norepinephrine can stimulate activity in the limbic system and over-excite neural pathways. Overstimulation can lead to an accelerated heart rate and increased cortisol levels, which can lead to paranoid thoughts. Changes in perception can also impact the way we feel, and the perceptual changed due to THC are often known to have anxiety-inducing effects.

However, when the right amount of cannabidiol is combined with the tetrahydrocannabinol, it may cause a synergistic effect that potentially cancels out any anxiety or paranoid thoughts. If you have previously used cannabis and experienced heightened anxiety, that’s good news for you. You might be able to use a different strain with higher CBD concentrations to help balance the effects.

Of course, some people are so sensitive to THC that they just opt for pure CBD products instead. CBD isolates and broad spectrum CBD products give users the option of benefitting from the potential anxiety-reducing effects of cannabidiol without any exposure to THC at all. For those who prefer smoking, but can’t handle the THC potency of common strains, there are hemp strains that contain very little THC content as well.


How to Avoid Weed Induced Anxiety

anxiety from weedThere are several things you can do to help ensure that your cannabis experience is a good one, and help lower the potential that you will experience any negative thoughts or anxious feelings. Because cannabis effects can vary based on many factors, and new users are more susceptible to weed induced anxiety, managing negative effects involves making changes to your cannabis routine. Here are some tips that may help you control and reduce any negative effects:

  • Start With a Low Dose: One of the most common reasons that people experience paranoia when using cannabis is due to a low tolerance. To combat this effect, start with low doses of cannabis. If you’re smoking it, this could mean taking only one hit at a time and then waiting 15 minutes to judge the effects. You should be able to build your dose slowly to find the sweet spot, where you can enjoy the relaxing high from THC, but none of the negative side effects. 
    For other cannabis products, like THC edibles, try taking half the recommended dose instead. You may also opt for full spectrum cannabis products (which include CBD as well) instead of pure THC products.  By not moving in to fast, you’ll allow your body the opportunity to build some tolerance to the cannabis plant and also be able to more easily judge the effects.


  • Switch Up Your Strain: For some people, switching strains is the first step to reducing pot paranoia. Try a high-CBD-low-THC strain instead of your regular high-THC strains. You may not get quite as high, but many people experience relaxing effects with very little risk of paranoid thoughts. If you want to do a little digging, look into strains that are recommended for people with anxiety. Also look for strain reviews when buying online. You’ll be able to get an idea of what worked for others before you try something new for yourself.
  • Add More CBD to Your Routine: If you’re a little too in love with your current strain to switch, try adding a CBD isolate to your cannabis routine instead. By using an extra dose of CBD alongside your favorite high-THC strain, you may be able to counter the effects of weed-induced anxiety. There are many CBD products to choose from, like CBD tinctures, edibles, or capsules. You can even try hemp flower and add it to your current strain to reduce the potency without completely altering your cannabis experience.

  • Use Cannabis Responsibly: Some anxiety or paranoia can possibly be avoided by ensuring that you are in a comfortable and safe location when using cannabis. Ensuring that you are relaxed before getting high can potentially help reduce the chance of weed-induced paranoia. You also shouldn’t use cannabis for the first time with people you don’t know well or who you aren’t entirely comfortable yet. Placing yourself in a stressful situation can increase the chance that cannabis use results in high anxiety levels or paranoid feelings.

  • Use Cannabis Under Your Doctor’s Guidance: This is especially important if you are using cannabis to treat any existing conditions or symptoms. You should consult your doctor before designing your cannabis routine or if you experience negative effects after cannabis use. Even if you are using weed recreationally, your doctor may be able to help you combat any negative effects, like anxiety, that you experience after use.


Unfortunately, there is no exact guide to follow when designing your cannabis routine. Your tolerance, gender, age, dietary habits, health conditions, and other biological factors can alter the way that cannabis affects you. The good news is that your weed-induced anxiety could very well be caused by misuse, and there may be a simple solution to your problem.



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