Marijuana Panic Attack: Everything You Need to Know

Learn the triggers, symptoms, and management strategies for marijuana-induced panic attacks. Get essential insights for safer consumption and mental health awareness.

The connection between marijuana use and experiencing panic attacks has lately been raising concern and interest. Many people use marijuana without negative effects. On the other hand, a significant number experience marijuana panic attack episodes. These episodes are intense and usually unexpected experiences of intense anxiety and fear. We will explore the connection between marijuana use and the development of panic episodes in great detail. We hope to offer valuable information to people who have encountered panic attacks when using marijuana and to help them find effective support. The affected people should understand the causes of these reactions, the available treatments, and how to manage the recovery with minimal side effects.

The science behind marijuana-induced panic attacks

Marijuana and panic attacks are connected on both physiological and psychological levels. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. This substance can alter perception and mood. It leads to increased sensory experiences and changes in thought patterns. For some people, these alterations can cause panic attacks. They are characterized by sudden and overwhelming anxiety. The reason is that THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Those receptors are part of a system that regulates emotions, fear, and anxiety. This interaction can disrupt the balance, especially in people with a predisposition to anxiety disorders. It could make them more susceptible to marijuana panic attacks.

a girl having a marijuana panic attack
Many people use marijuana without negative effects, while a significant number of others encounter marijuana panic attack episodes

Some of the symptoms of marijuana-induced panic attacks:

  • Rapid heartbeat,
  • Sweating,
  • Dizziness,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Disconnection from reality.

The mechanism behind how THC affects anxiety levels involves its impact on the amygdala. It’s a brain region responsible for fear responses. High doses of THC can overstimulate the amygdala and lead to increased anxiety and panic. This response underscores the balance between the therapeutic potential of marijuana and its capacity to cause anxiety in people. Understanding the science behind panic attacks and marijuana helps in recognizing the risks associated with it and informs about safer consumption practices. Over the last ten years, there has been a significant increase in the use of cannabis. In 2011, 29% of individuals aged 19 to 30 reported using marijuana in the previous year. By 2021, that number had risen to 43%.

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Medical marijuana and panic attacks

Medical marijuana for panic attacks is a delicate option for some patients. However, it is considered a double-edged sword in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. Under certain conditions, medical marijuana is seen as an alternative or supplementary therapy. Particularly, it’s an option when traditional treatments haven’t provided relief. The reason for this is the potential of marijuana to modulate the endocannabinoid system. This system regulates mood and anxiety levels. However, the person’s health history, the specific strains and THC/CBD ratios, and the method of consumption have to be taken into account since all of them can influence the outcome.

marijuana and some pills on the dark surface
You should be mindful of the possibility of having a marijuana panic attack when using it

The question, “Can I get a medical marijuana card for panic attacks?” highlights the growing interest in cannabis as a possible treatment option. However, this inquiry also points to the complexities and controversies that surround its effectiveness and risks. Some patients report relief from panic symptoms with medical marijuana use. Others, on the other hand, may experience increased anxiety or panic attacks as a side effect. At the moment, 50% of states have legal access to medical cannabis, and 17 of those states permit the use of products high in CBD (cannabidiol) and low in THC for medical purposes.

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Detoxification and withdrawal: the road to recovery

If you are looking to reduce or quit the use of marijuana, you should definitely consider detoxification as the first step. Marijuana detox refers to allowing the body to rid itself of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. This can lead to a range of withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to functioning without the substance. Detoxification can vary in duration and intensity. It depends on the level and length of marijuana use. If you have support from healthcare professionals, your detoxification process will be safer and more manageable. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety,
  • Irritability,
  • Sleep disturbances,
  • Decreased appetite,
  • Mood swings,
  • Physical discomfort.

Can weed withdrawal cause chest pain?

Many people ask the question: can weed withdrawal cause chest pain? It’s important to understand that this symptom is not typically associated with marijuana withdrawal. However, the physical manifestations of anxiety and stress that go with the withdrawal process can sometimes cause chest discomfort.

Experiencing chest pain during withdrawal is not something that happens very often. Nevertheless, the emotional and physical strain of detoxification can have different effects on the body. If you encounter chest pain, go for a medical evaluation right away. You want to ensure that there are no other underlying conditions. If you are aware of the potential symptoms of withdrawal, it will help you better prepare for the detoxification.

a man holding his chest after a marijuana panic attack
Experiencing chest pain during withdrawal is not common

Treatment options beyond marijuana

If you are dealing with panic attacks and marijuana dependency, getting professional treatment is a first step. Marijuana might initially seem like a self-medication method for anxiety. However, it can lead to a cycle of dependence and worsened panic symptoms over time. A more effective solution would be to get professional help. Comprehensive treatment solutions that include anxiety treatment cater to the underlying issues contributing to marijuana use and panic attacks. These treatments provide strategies and tools for managing anxiety without reliance on substances. Make sure to choose a healthier approach to coping with stress and emotional challenges.

If you are trying to overcome marijuana dependency, drug rehabs offer a range of services tailored to address both the psychological and physical aspects of addiction. These facilities provide a safe environment for you. There, you can receive care from professionals experienced in treating substance use disorders. The programs often combine therapy, education, and peer support to guide participants through recovery. If you choose to opt for one of the drug rehabs, you gain access to various resources. They not only help you break free from marijuana dependency but also teach you skills necessary for long-term recovery and mental health management.

a therapist and a patient talking about marijuana panic attack
For marijuana panic attacks, there are programs that combine therapy, education, and peer support

Choosing the right rehab facility

In order to treat marijuana panic attacks effectively, you should, of course, select the right rehab facility. We advise looking for centers that offer personalized programs tailored to your specific needs. We Level Up stands out by providing a range of services designed to treat not just the addiction but also the underlying mental health issues. When exploring rehab facilities, consider those that emphasize a holistic approach to recovery. Another thing to pay attention to is that they should incorporate both medical and therapeutic support. You should have a treatment plan that addresses all aspects of addiction and mental health. Here is what we offer:

  • Medical detoxification.
  • Addiction rehabs.
  • Mental health treatments.
  • Therapy programs.

Immediate relief: how to sober up from marijuana

If you’re looking for immediate relief from a marijuana-induced high or panic attack, there are several steps you can take to help regain your sense of control and comfort. First of all, you should find a safe and quiet space where you can sit or lie down. This reduces sensory overload and allows your body and mind to relax. Drinking water or hydrating beverages can also help. It aids in flushing out your system and keeps you grounded. Taking deep, slow breaths can further minimize the feelings of anxiety or panic and help to restore a sense of calm. Last but not least, you should communicate with a trusted friend or family member for reassurance and a sense of safety.

a woman in bed listening to musing using the headphones
Listen to calming music, take a shower, or engage in a light exercise like walking to help you distract your mind and reduce the intensity of your marijuana panic attack

For people specifically wondering how to sober up from marijuana, the key is to engage in simple, grounding activities. Listen to calming music, take a shower, or engage in some exercise like walking to distract your mind. Additionally, try to consume black pepper (either smell it or chew on a peppercorn.) It can provide surprising relief due to its calming effect on anxiety. Engaging in mental distractions can be very beneficial. Simple activities such as drawing, coloring, or even watching a light-hearted movie can help shift your focus away from anxiety. Remember, while these methods can offer immediate relief, the effects of marijuana will naturally diminish over time as your body metabolizes the substance.

Facing the facts: the reality of marijuana panic attacks

Marijuana and panic attacks are very connected, and you should be aware of this if you are consuming marijuana for panic disorders or anxiety. It can offer relief for some people, that’s true. However, you should always have the risk of a marijuana panic attack in mind. It’s because it usually increases feelings of anxiety and distress. We encourage you to thoroughly consider all aspects of marijuana use and weigh both its benefits and potential risks. If you’re using marijuana to manage panic or anxiety symptoms, your first step is to get professional advice. A healthcare provider can offer personalized guidance. Moreover, they can help you make an informed decision that prioritizes your mental health and well-being.

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Johnson, G.A., Guerra, L. and Oxner, A. (2023). A Case of Panic Attacks Developing After 10 Years of Chronic Cannabis Use in a Patient With No Prior Psychiatric History. Cureus. doi:

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NIDA (2022). Marijuana and hallucinogen use among young adults reached all time-high in 2021. [online] National Institute on Drug Abuse. Available at: