Symptoms of a Weed-Induced Panic Attack

Symptoms of a Weed-Induced Panic Attack

Panic attacks from weed use, commonly known as cannabis-induced panic attacks, can be a distressing and overwhelming experience for users. While marijuana is often associated with relaxation and euphoria, it can also cause intense feelings of fear, anxiety, and a loss of control in certain individuals. These episodes or attacks can be alarming and further highlight the potential dangers of marijuana use. We will discuss the causes and signs of weed panic attacks, shedding light on the factors that contribute to these reactions. Additionally, we will provide insights and strategies for individuals seeking to manage or avoid panic attacks associated with marijuana use.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed, Mary Jane, pot, herb, grass, bud, or ganja, is a green-gray mixture of dried flowers from plants like Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. It can be consumed in various forms, such as smoking it rolled into blunts, joints, or using a bong or vape pen. Marijuana can also be brewed as tea or baked into food. The main psychoactive component in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the high and other side effects.

The effects of marijuana can vary from person to person and may include confusion, decreased motor movement, distorted perception of time, feelings of calm and relaxation, increased appetite, and lowered inhibitions. While marijuana may seem relatively safe, it can have harmful effects on the brain, lungs, and mental health. It's important to note that marijuana purchased from illicit sources may be laced with other additives or drugs, which can be even more dangerous. Chronic marijuana use can lead to physical and psychological dependence, requiring anxiety treatment and addiction recovery programs.

What are Weed Panic Attacks?

Weed induced anxiety symptoms occur when the use of marijuana triggers or exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and panic. These attacks can be particularly distressing for individuals with a history of panic disorder or those who are prone to anxiety. Panic disorder is characterized by intense, unexpected episodes of fear and discomfort, accompanied by physical symptoms like a racing heart, difficulty breathing, and a sense of impending doom. People with panic disorder often become hyper-focused on these bodily sensations and may develop catastrophic thoughts about their meaning, such as going crazy or dying.

When highly anxious individuals, who are already sensitive to bodily sensations, consume marijuana, it can amplify their anxiety and potentially lead to a panic attack. Marijuana can induce bodily sensations, such as an increased heart rate or dizziness, which can trigger panic in susceptible individuals. Furthermore, the psychoactive effects of marijuana can impair cognitive function and lead to catastrophic misinterpretation of bodily sensations. This combination of heightened anxiety and impaired thinking can contribute to the onset of a panic attack.

Signs of a Weed Panic Attack

Weed panic attacks can manifest with various signs and symptoms, which may vary from person to person. Some common signs of a weed-induced panic attack include:

  1. Intense Fear and Discomfort: Individuals may experience an overwhelming sense of fear or discomfort that is disproportionate to the situation.
  2. Rapid Heartbeat: A racing or pounding heart is a common physical symptom during a panic attack.
  3. Difficulty Breathing: Individuals may feel shortness of breath or have difficulty catching their breath.
  4. Chest Pain or Tightness: Some individuals may experience chest pain or a sensation of tightness or pressure in their chest.
  5. Feeling of Choking or Suffocating: Panic attacks can cause a feeling of choking or suffocating, even when there is no physical obstruction.
  6. Dizziness or Lightheadedness: A sense of dizziness or lightheadedness can accompany a panic attack.
  7. Nausea or Stomach Discomfort: Some individuals may experience stomach pain, nausea, or digestive discomfort during a panic attack.
  8. Sweating or Trembling: Profuse sweating or uncontrollable trembling can occur during a panic attack.
  9. Tingling or Numbness: Some individuals may experience tingling or numbness in their extremities or other parts of their body.
  10. Fear of Losing Control or Going Crazy: Panic attacks can be accompanied by a fear of losing control, going crazy, or having a mental breakdown.
  11. Fear of Dying or Having a Heart Attack: Individuals may have an intense fear of dying or experiencing a heart attack during a panic attack.
  12. Sense of Detachment from Reality or One's Body: Some individuals may feel detached from reality or have an out-of-body experience during a panic attack.

It's important to note that while panic attacks can be extremely distressing, they are not life-threatening. Panic attacks typically resolve on their own within a few minutes, although the duration can feel much longer when experiencing one. However, individuals who experience panic attacks may engage in risky behaviors or develop anxiety disorders as a result.

Factors Contributing to Weed Induced Anxiety Symptoms

Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack from marijuana use. Understanding these factors can help individuals make informed decisions about their substance use and reduce the risk of panic attacks. The following are key factors that can influence the occurrence of weed panic attacks:

  • Individual Susceptibility: Some individuals are more susceptible to anxiety and panic attacks, either due to underlying anxiety disorders, past traumatic experiences, or high levels of stress. Those with a history of panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder are more likely to experience panic attacks from marijuana use.
  • Dosage: The amount of THC consumed plays a significant role in the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack. Consuming high doses of THC in a short period can overwhelm the endocannabinoid system and increase the risk of anxiety and panic.
  • Strain Types: Different strains of marijuana have varying levels of THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Strains high in THC are more likely to induce anxiety and panic, while strains with higher levels of CBD may counteract some of the anxiety-inducing effects of THC.
  • Method of Consumption: The method of marijuana consumption can also impact the likelihood of a panic attack. Smoking or vaping marijuana leads to a faster onset of effects and stronger side effects compared to consuming edibles. The rapid and intense high from smoking or vaping can be overwhelming and increase the risk of panic and anxiety.
  • Personal Mindset and Setting: An individual's mindset and the environment in which they consume marijuana can influence their experience. If an individual is already feeling anxious or is in a high-stress environment, the likelihood of a panic attack may increase.


Managing and Preventing Weed Panic Attacks

If you have experienced weed-induced panic attacks or are concerned about the risk of having one, there are strategies you can employ to manage and prevent them. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Self-Awareness: Develop self-awareness and understand your personal triggers and limits. Pay attention to how marijuana affects you and whether it contributes to feelings of anxiety or panic.
  2. Choose Low-THC Strains: When selecting marijuana, opt for strains with lower levels of THC and higher levels of CBD. This can help mitigate the anxiety-inducing effects of THC.
  3. Start with Small Doses: Begin with small doses of marijuana and gradually increase if necessary. This allows you to gauge your tolerance and minimize the risk of overwhelming anxiety or panic.
  4. Use in a Comfortable Setting: Consume marijuana in a comfortable and familiar environment where you feel safe. Avoid situations or social settings that may increase anxiety.
  5. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness to help manage anxiety symptoms.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If you have a history of anxiety or panic disorders, it's essential to seek professional help. A therapist can provide guidance and support in managing anxiety and panic attacks.
  7. Consider Alternative Methods: If smoking or vaping marijuana triggers panic attacks, consider alternative methods of consumption such as edibles or topical products. These methods have a slower onset and may be less likely to induce anxiety.
  8. Create a Supportive Network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends or family who understand your concerns and can provide reassurance during potentially triggering situations.
  9. Incorporate Coping Strategies: Learn and practice coping strategies to manage anxiety symptoms, such as cognitive-behavioral techniques, grounding exercises, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction.
  10. Explore Other Treatment Options: If you find that marijuana consistently triggers panic attacks or exacerbates anxiety symptoms, consider exploring alternative treatment options for managing anxiety, such as therapy, medication, or holistic approaches.

Remember, everyone's experience with marijuana is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to listen to your body, prioritize your mental health, and make informed choices about substance use based on your individual needs and experiences.


In conclusion, weed panic attacks can be distressing and overwhelming for individuals, especially those with a history of anxiety or panic disorders. Understanding the weed panic attack signs, symptoms, and contributing factors can help individuals make informed decisions about marijuana use and minimize the risk of experiencing panic attacks. By practicing self-awareness, choosing low-THC strains, starting with small doses, and employing relaxation techniques, individuals can manage and prevent weed-induced panic attacks. However, if marijuana consistently triggers anxiety or panic, it may be beneficial to seek professional help and explore alternative treatment options for managing anxiety. Remember, your mental health and well-being should always be a priority.


BMC Medical Genetics- Genetic risk-factors for anxiety in healthy individuals

World Health Organization- Anxiety disorders

Overcoming Series- Who is susceptible to anxiety?

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