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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Anxiety Symptoms after smoking pot?


 mytokioromancee - Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:06 pm

Hi, I'm fifteen years old (turning 16 this august) and I've been experiencing anxiety symptoms and attacks ever since I started smoking pot in December 2009.The first time I smoked pot I didn't feel anything at all but my friend said that was normal because it was my first time and after that I smoked pot again another time like in February and I felt strange like really strange like I had depresonalization and derealization but I didn't know it at the time so I went online did some research and was freaked out when I read about something called depersonalization disorder, I thought thats what I had! I got so scared but the bad thoughts went away after like a week and I completely forgot about it well I still remembered it but it didn't really scare me because I knew thats not what I had.After that I smoked again and this time it really terrified me and I made the connection between marijuana and my panic attack symptoms but again they went away after like a week or two and I vowed to never smoke again but alas I was dragged down by peer pressure.I smoked again like in April with some friends and I felt fine just a little hazy but after a week I felt horrible.My fears of having depersonalization disorder came back and so did my derealization and anxiety but these (now that I look back on it) where just panic attacks because I would feel a little bit better when they went away but afterwards my panic attacks went into full panic all the time, I'd get so scared I stopped wanting to go to school, I hated having to go outside which is weird because in my family I've always been the brave one and the "rock" for everyone.I told my mom about it one morning when I had a horrible panic attack while on the way to school, she told me that it was normal that everyone goes through this in their life but that did little to reasure me.My panic attacks go away sometimes but I still feel like dizzy and unreal, I hate it, I just want to go back to being myself again, I want to stop being depressed and scared that this will never go away :( I want to hang out with friends again and most importantly I just want to enjoy life again.Please help me, I want to go to a doctor but I'm just so terrified that they'll say that this is a chronic condition and that I'll never be the same again and I'm also scared to tell my mom, she worries alot and I don't want to add to that :(

For easier access, I've made a sort of time line of my panic history:
1994-2009: No panic attacks or anything but when I moved to Mexico (Lived there for three months in '09, I felt strange like unreal when I started school there but I didn't have panic attacks and they went away once I came back to my hometown.)
December 2009 : First time smoking, I smoked twice this month with no effects.
January 2010: I didn't smoke at all.
February: Smoked twice, had first panic attack, but the symptoms didn't last long and went away. (Symptoms: Fear of mental illness, racing heart,trembling, I felt cold,Fear that I was never going to be right again,depersonalization)
March 2010: Smoked like three times, didn't feel anything except calm.However, after a week my anxiety symptoms came back and I felt strange and scared).This is when I made the connection between my anxiety symptoms and marijuana, I vowed to never smoke again.
April 2010:Alas, I fell to peer pressure, smoked again, and I didn't feel anything until a week later I felt terrible.
My symptoms included:
Feeling desperate (Like I was never going to be right again)
Depression
Tingling sensations
depersonalization
Feeling Unreal
Dizzyness (Especially during car rides)
I also feel I've developed agrophobia because I don't leave my house because I'm way too scared

Sometimes I'll stay up online and read about mental illnesses but I feel like this makes it worse because I'm scared like what if I have schizophrenia? or if I'm going insane? I don't have any hallucinations or delusions but still I get terrified like what if one day I wake up and I'm crazy?

Please help :(
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:21 pm

Hello, mytokioromancee,

I'm sorry that you've been having such a miserable time. The teenage years can be very difficult, as you've been experiencing, and as your mom tried to reassure you. First, it would be exceedingly rare for a person to go to bed anxious and wake up "crazy." You are also too young to be considered to have schizophrenia. Second, you are describing a well known, documented type of chronic negative reaction to smoking pot. You can stop that part of your issue by not smoking pot, because it is doing you harm. If you were allergic to something, your friends would not ask you to use it. Consider yourself "allergic" to smoking pot, and ask your friends to respect that. Don't stay around for the second-hand smoke, either.

When a person develops an anxiety problem, thinking about it creates more anxiety, and it can become an actual anxiety disorder. Your increasing isolation, panic attacks, and fears do need some attention from your doctor. If medication isn't sufficient, cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective. Such services can be provided privately, or through a local public mental health agency. These agencies generally base their charges on the person's ability to pay.

Please begin a daily record of your symptoms. Record what the symptom is (dizziness, anxiety, etc.), what time it started, what you were doing when or just before it started, how long it lasted, what helped or made it worse, and anything else you consider important about it. Such a record will be invaluable to your doctor and/or therapist in both understanding the effect on your life, finding the most accurate diagnosis, and devising the best treatment for you. It will also help you track how often something actually does happen vs. your fears of how often it's happening, and will help you track your improvement. Don't try to diagnose yourself or use diagnostic terms like
"depersonalization." Try to describe how you feel in regular words. Take your record with you to all medical and therapy appointments.

I really hope this is helpful to you. I wish you the best of luck.

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