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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Anxiety after Marijuana-induced Panic Attack


 llahem - Fri Dec 26, 2008 1:50 pm

About two weeks ago I smoked marijuana with a friend before attending a concert and had what I can only describe as a severe panic attack. It was not a large amount, but I was told it was stronger marijuana than I was used to. I have smoked marijuana socially at random times over the past two and a half years (probably less than 20 times) and have made the decision to never smoke again. I have never experimented with any illegal drugs. I have only experienced a similar feeling about 7 months ago after smoking, but felt fine the next day a few hours after waking up.

During the "panic attack" I just felt as if I was going crazy and I would never be the same. I was having too many thoughts and couldn't stop becoming scared and I truly believed all the bad things in my head were going to happen to me. It eventually lessened in intensity and I was coherent but...not the same. I could not sleep that night and when I finally fell asleep it was about 1/2 to an 1 hour before I had to wake up to go to work. I went to work and and everything but things just didn't feel the same. I had no appetite and had trouble sleeping that night as well.

For the past two weeks I can't get the episode off my mind. My appetite comes and goes but has largely been O.K. since returning home for Christmas break. I have also been able to sleep O.K. Sometimes I feel as if my heart is beating too fast or too hard. I have seen some improvement, but have setbacks when for some reason I just feel as if things aren't the same , or aren't real. I feel as if I have been over-analyzing things. I also become extremely nervous when trying to research mental disorders, especially schizophrenia. A week after the original incident, after I had been feeling as if I was getting better, a movie where paranoid and schizophrenic individuals were featured triggered what I would call my only other real "panic attack" where I couldn't sleep and my mind was just overactive and I couldn't stop worrying.

I am able to function normally....without showing any visible problems to people I interact with. When I am with friends and having fun I pretty much forget about it and I am myself. When drinking with friends and having fun I am completely fine. When I am idle or bored my anxieties are at their worst. I have never had any issues with anxiety or depression in the past and I'm told there is no known history of mental illness in my family.

The only people I have told are my parents and I do plan to see a psychiatrist but I when I came to that decision it was the night before Christmas eve and I have had difficulty obtaining an appointment over the holidays. I am leaving for a week-long Vacation with friends on the 30th and I am trying to obtain an appointment before then,but not sure if I can. I would like some peace of mind before then, which is the reason for my post. I just don't know what is wrong with me and I don't want to self-diagnose myself.

Thank you in advance for anyone who can offer help.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:12 pm

Hi llahem,

it sounds as if you had an episode of anxiety, resembling a panic attack, but was rather due to the episode of marijuana intoxication. In other words, it was likely due to the effects of the marijuana itself, or something that may have been mixed in with it; or with which it was "laced" with. For the next two weeks, you may have simply been feelinganxious due tothe experience having been frightening, and causing a fear that it would recur. Alternately, since marijuana stays in your body, where it is stored particularly in one's fat cells, you may have had some persisting effect of the intoxication from the marijuana. Panic disorder generallly occurs repeatedly in untriggered situations, and persists over a longer period of time than what you have experienced. I am glad that you will be seeing a psychiatrist, and as you have indicated, it would be best for you to avoid alcohol and illicit drugs in the future.

Good luck! E. Seigle MD
 Falcone - Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:34 am

Im so in the same position as you. Mines started last summer.

I was never a heavy marijuana, although maybe smoke it a little more than you. I think I bought it on perhaps 5 occasions, and others time would be random at parties etc. So id say in my life i've never smoked more than 2-3oz all together, Sometimes 6 months or whatever between smokes.

I had never had a bad trip (except my first time) but was smoking some rather strong stuff with friends, I had maybe smoked 4 times in the last 2 months (and not for a few months before that at least).

Went home, as normal not feeling anxious or anything. I woke up during the night, still a little high, but coherent and feeling sick (as I had eaten a Kebab - during the munchie period) I went to the toilet and was sick, but I felt like a bit got caught in my throat, despite clearing it, it still felt there. I descended into mad panic and it took be an hour or so of pacing about to calm down. The next day I felt a little shaky from the smoking but stupid about the panicing as I couldnt believe I made such a deal (woke my mother up etc).

A few days later, after a night of serious drinking I get the same thing while eating cereal - This time the panic lasts days, it was horrible, I paced around all day I couldnt sleep, I just wanted to be in peoples company but when I was I had to go to the bathroom to compose myself etc. I was so worried I had wrecked my mind, I panicked about the possibility of full-blown panick and was scared that I would go schizophrenic. I know what you feel about things not being real, sometimes you feel like your not in your own body.

I have some degree of OCD thoughts although its never interfered with my life to any great extent. Until now. I seem to be constantly basttling with my brain, repressing thoughts etc, just incase I develop some kind of delusions/voice etc, sounds stupid when I write it down, but im hoping to see someone about it. So its not like full blown panic anymore just ill-at-ease, with a stressed mind. Its made my fearful of a progression of mental illness.

I have not smoked it since, and will never again. And like you said, when im out socialising I can mainly forget (especially if im drinking/out at a club etc), its mainly when im alone with my own thoughts its bads, and yeah I struggle to watch anything with mental illness as an issue now, scares me.

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