People commonly associate cannabis with relaxation, but it’s also known for causing feelings of paranoia or anxiety in some folks. What gives?
First, it’s important to understand what paranoia involves. It’s similar to anxiety, but a bit more specific.
Paranoia describes an irrational suspicion of other people. You might believe people are watching you, following you, or trying to rob or harm you in some way.
Why it happens
Experts believe your endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a part in cannabis-related paranoia.
When you use cannabis, certain compounds in it, including THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, bind to endocannabinoid receptors in various parts of your brain, including the amygdala.
Your amygdala helps regulate your response to fear and related emotions, like anxiety, stress, and — wait for it — paranoia. When you use cannabis that’s rich in THC, your brain suddenly receives more cannabinoids than usual. Research suggests this excess of cannabinoids may overstimulate the amygdala, making you feel fear and anxiety.
This would also explain why products rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that doesn’t directly bind to endocannabinoid receptors, don’t seem to cause paranoia.
Why you might be more prone to it
Not everyone experiences paranoia after using cannabis. Plus, most people who do experience it don’t notice it every single time they use cannabis.
So, what makes someone more likely to experience it? There’s no single answer, but there are a few major factors to consider.
Opt For A Strain High In CBD
First of all, it’s necessary to point out that the best thing you can do to beat paranoia is to try to prevent it altogether. If you know that you are prone to anxious thoughts and feelings when you aren’t using cannabis, then you will be at a much higher risk of paranoia when you do. So, it’s best for you to look for a strain that has a high level of CBD in it. CBD is a naturally occurring chemical that is found in the cannabis part. It isn’t psychoactive and is actually thought to fight off feelings of anxiety and paranoia. As a result, if you do smoke, vape, or ingest a strain of weed that is high in CBD, you may experience a clear-headed feeling that is free from any paranoid thoughts.
Use A Small Dose
It could also be worth using a smaller dose of cannabis as well. Most people like to go by ‘low and slow’. That just means that you start with a very small dose of cannabis and then you slowly increase the dosage once you are comfortable and feel like trying more. Lots of people prefer to vape as they find it easier to control the dose. Smoking is the most popular method but some find dosing difficult. Although edibles can give a slightly different high to smoking, consumers find the dosage helpful as its provided with the serving sizes to control the amount of THC. Once you start sticking to a low dosage, you won’t have to worry about getting too high and inducing paranoia.
Use Cannabis In A Safe And Relaxing Space
One neat tip that helps a lot of people to stay calm when they are using cannabis is to take it in a safe and relaxing space. For instance, it probably isn’t a good idea to start smoking it if you are about to walk through a very crowded place – that could send your brain into overdrive. Ideally, the best place to use cannabis is always in your own home. You can then fully unwind, relax and will have nothing to worry about while you’re high on your couch. It’s always best to do it with some close friends as well so that you have some people to rely on if some paranoia does start to creep into your mind.
Use Some Supplements
It might be worth taking some supplements while you are using your weed too. For instance, it’s always a good idea to have some CBD supplement close at hand so that you can take some if you do start to feel the paranoia build. You could vape the CBD oil or take it in a capsule form. The more CBD you take, the fewer paranoid thoughts you may experience.
Practice Some Breathing Techniques
There are some breathing techniques that you might want to try out as well. If you get your breathing under control then you will find that it is a lot easier to calm your mind and take control of your thoughts and feelings. This should also help if you find that your heart starts to race. One of the best breathing techniques is to breathe, hold, then release. Simply breath in slowly for three seconds, hold for three seconds then release for four seconds. Using this breathing tactic allows you to release more oxygen then you’re taking in to help bring the racing heart down and less oxygen to the brain to send those shooting panic thoughts away.
STRAIN CHOICE CAN INFLUENCE PARANOIA
There’s something fishy about weed paranoia. How can weed have both medicinal benefits for treating anxiety, and also induce this anxiety-provoking condition?
The division between strains that increase anxiety and those that decrease it depends on their cannabinoids and terpenes. High-THC strains are known to increase anxiety and to contribute to weed paranoia. The above study confirms this; subjects were given either THC or a placebo, and then put through a series of potentially paranoia-inducing VR and social tasks. Those in the THC treatment were significantly more likely to experience paranoia compared to the control group.
Terpenes, elements of the cannabis plant famous for giving weed its flavour, may also influence the likelihood of weed paranoia. Smokers looking to avoid paranoia would do well to find a strain high in beta-caryophyllene and other relaxing terpenes. Good options include Dinamed CBD, which measures 14% in CBD with only trace amounts of THC. For those who might want a hint of THC with their CBD, CBD Therapy offers a 1:20 THC to CBD ratio, where all that CBD will very likely knock out any possibility of paranoia. Other high-CBD, low-THC strains include CBD Fix and Swiss Dream.