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Cannabis
May 11, 2021

What does weed paranoia feel like

Most people usually associate cannabis with feeling relaxed, but it is also known for causing feelings of paranoia or anxiety in some users. Why?


First, we need to understand what paranoia involves. It’s similar to anxiety, but a bit more specific. Paranoia is an irrational suspicion of other people. You might feel like people are watching you, following you, or trying to harm you in some way.


Why it happens

Experts think that your endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a part in paranoia from weed. When you use weed, some compounds in it, including THC (the psychoactive part of cannabis)  bind to endocannabinoid receptors in various parts of your brain, including the amygdala.


Your amygdala is what regulates your response to fear and related emotions, like anxiety, stress, and paranoia. When you use cannabis that is high in THC, your brain gets a lot more cannabinoids than usual very quickly. This excess of cannabinoids could be what overstimulates the amygdala, making you feel anxious or frightened.


This would also explain why weed that is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that doesn’t directly bind to endocannabinoid receptors, doesn’t seem to cause paranoia.


Why you might be more prone to it

Not everyone feels paranoid after using weed. Those who do experience it don’t notice it every single time they use it.


What makes someone more likely to experience paranoia? There’s no one answer, but there are a few factors to take into account.


Genetics

Weed tends to give the user positive effects, such as relaxation and decreased anxiety, when it provides more stimulation to the front region of the brain. This response has to do with a large number of reward-producing opioid receptors in the front of the brain. If the back portion of your brain has more THC sensitivity than the anterior then you could have a bad reaction, which might include paranoia or anxiety.


THC content

Using marijuana with more THC could also have a part to play in paranoia and other negative symptoms. A 2017 study that looked at 42 healthy adults found evidence to suggest that consuming 7.5 milligrams of THC lowered negative feelings that are usually associated with a stressful task. A higher dose of 12.5 mg had the opposite effect and increased those negative feelings, including paranoia.


While other factors like tolerance, genetics, and brain chemistry can also have an impact, in most cases, you are more likely to experience paranoia or anxiety when you use a lot of cannabis at once or use strains that are higher in THC.


Sex

It has been suggested that higher estrogen levels can increase sensitivity to cannabis by as much as 30 percent and lower your tolerance for marijuana. What does this mean for weed users? If you’re a woman and use cannabis, you might be more sensitive to it and its various effects. This would be true for the positive effects, like pain relief, as well as any negative effects, like paranoia.


How to handle it

If you find that you experience cannabis-related paranoia when you smoke, there are a few things that you can try to lessen the effects.


Relax

Find something to do that relaxes you, like coloring, putting on your favorite music, or taking a bath. Some people find that yoga or deep breathing exercises, especially alternate nostril breathing, can also help.


To do alternate nostril breathing:

  • Hold one side of your nose closed.
  • Slowly breathe in and out several times.
  • Switch sides and repeat.


Take a whiff of pepper

Cannabinoids and terpenoids, like the terpenes found in pepper, share some chemical similarities, which could be why some people find it has some benefit for lessening the effects of too much THC.


If you have fresh peppercorns at home, grind them up and take a deep breath. Be careful not to get too close. Stinging eyes and sneezing will distract you from paranoia temporarily, but it won’t be nice.


Make lemonade

Do you have lemons in the fruit bowl? Limonene, another terpene, can also help with the effects of too much THC. Squeeze and zest a couple of lemons and add sugar or honey and water.


Create a relaxing environment

If your environment is making you feel stressed out, this won’t help your feelings of paranoia.

If you can, try to go somewhere you usually feel relaxed, such as your bedroom or outdoors.


If can’t go somewhere else, try:

  • switching on soothing music
  • wrapping up in a blanket
  • cuddling or stroking a pet
  • calling a friend you trust

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