Panic Disorder and Marijuana

Discussion in 'Surveys, Polls and Questions' started by LeftyGunner, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. LeftyGunner

    LeftyGunner New Member

    One month ago I was diagnosed by my family physican with having panic disorder and agoraphobia. I'll give a brief synopsis of both illnesses, including the symptoms of panic attack.

    Panic Disorder (My symptoms highlighted in bold):

    -Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
    -Heart palpitations or a racing heart
    -Chest pain or discomfort
    -Trembling or shaking
    -Choking feeling
    -Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
    -Nausea or upset stomach
    -Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
    -Numbness or tingling sensations
    -Hot or cold flashes
    -Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy


    is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no easy means of escape. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia may avoid public and/or unfamiliar places. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this "safe place."

    I've been smoking marijuana regularly since the age of seventeen (I'm now just turned twenty-three) and never dealt with anxiety or panic attacks before. I've had the 'paranoid' moments commonly associated with the use of a psychedelic drug such as cannabis, but it had never been as issue until now.

    I'll spare the details of this hellish month, but I will say the attack was triggered after smoking marijuana and drinking Red Bull (my grandfather had also been hospitalized the day before). I'm now taking Ativan (Lorazepam, 10mg) and Cipralex (Escitalopram, 20mg) to medicate the attacks. For those unfamilar with the drugs, Ativan is a fast-acting drug used immediately when the panic attacks occur (relief is usually felt 30-60 mins after dosage), and the Cipralex is more of a long-term drug aimed at stopped the attacks altogether, although patients normally start seeing improvements after 3-6 weeks after the first dosage.

    The other night I smoked a joint (half-gram) and only took three tokes. It was about ten minutes later that I experienced a full-blown panic attack that lasted upwards of three to four hours. For anyone who's been through a real panic attack, it can be terrifying. Which leads my question:

    Should a person, having been diagnosed with these illnesses, continue to smoke marijuana? The smartest and most logical answer here seems to be "no", but I also don't believe it's that clear cut. Everyone deals with panic disorder in their own ways, and I'm sure this illness has not stopped people from toking up and enjoying their life as they once did.

    I'm hoping to gather varying opinions and the experiences of others so that I may come to a conclusion on the future between cannabis and myself. Right now I'm taking a break until I feel I can make a prudent decision, and in the meantime I'll leave it to the valued members of to discuss and weigh their opinions on the matter.
  2. Buzzby

    Buzzby Buddhist Curmudgeon

    I would certainly stop smoking until you've got the panic attacks under control. Why would you take a drug known to induce panic attacks? Since this started when your grandfather was hospitalized, I think that was probably the trigger. Have you gotten any counseling? With no former history, this could well be a temporary condition. Have you talked to your doctor about when you can get off the prescription meds? When he thinks it's time to do that would be when I'd start thinking about smoking again.
  3. Csharp

    Csharp Sr. Member

    yeah,if you are stressed or depressed or anything like that,then it's a safe bet that they are whats causing the panic attacks.
  4. bangarang

    bangarang New Member

    I also have panic disorder, but have found the opposite to be true for me, meaning mj cuts down on my panic attacks. I was given zoloft and klonopin for mine and the combination made me a zombie, and I was still having panic attacks. Following the attacks, my stomache was contantly upset from the zoloft so I began smoking more regularly for the nausea and noticed the amount of attacks diminishing, eventually taking me off both prescriptions. I haven't had a panic attack since December and smoke daily, usually after work into the evening. This of course depends on the kind of lifestyle you lead and how much you're allowed to smoke, but I would suggest smoking a mid and taking only the minimum amount of puffs needed to get a slight buzz, just to chill you out until you find the source of your anxiety and can get rid of the disorder all together. Best of luck
  5. willowmp

    willowmp New Member

    It depends on how weed specifically impacts you. If it precipitates anxiety and paranoia in you then it may not be worth it. It has been reported to be both a trigger for anxiety as well as a cure.

    Honestly nobody here can tell you how its going to impact you. It has a different impact for each individual. Give it a shot and if it causes any trouble for you just don't do it.
  6. dirtbomb

    dirtbomb Hippie

    In my own experiences as someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a panic disorder that goes back to pre-adolescence, pot has always helped to stop attacks usually within seconds of having one.
    Everybody is different, though.
    Ativan actually caused fits of blind rage with me. Cymbalta landed me in the hospital due to a major panic with arrhythmia to boot and Prozac did little or nothing at all.
    I'd recommend taking Buzzby's advice, though. Take a break from smoking to see if you get better.
    Once the immediate emotional stuff settles, it's quite possible that a low dose option will be helpful, if you're left with lingering problems.
  7. RespyShunt

    RespyShunt New Member

    one reccomendation, try smoking in a safer environment. For me, smoking at my house is where i get my nervousness and paranoia because my parents are right there. If im at a friends house i know that its their ass if they get caught. Also just chill out when you smoke. Go inside after taking a few puffs and just lay on the couch with some friends, dont worrry about getting caught and relax.
  8. Desperado

    Desperado New Member

    hehe aww man, It makes me feel better knowing that there are other people who feel the same shit I felt.. :p

    OK first of let me say this; You've been having these things for about 2 months? DUDE let me tell you, when you have these things control your life for 2 years ;) then you should worry, you are in NO Trouble at all!

    But I understand completly when you say "Hellish Month" That is NO understatment. I have had Many, many, many HELLISH months. :)

    Again though, To defuse your situation by comparing you to me, I noticed that you did not Bold "Feeling unreal or detached from your surrounds" this means that you do not know, or experence, those symptoms right? "HOLY SHIT ARE YOU LUCKY" is all I can say. I really mean it, To get such a thing as Panic attacks and Aniexty and to not have that symptom, you have gotten the golden eggs of panic attacks. I am jealous I did not share in your good fortune.

    "Losing Control" is a fun one aint it?

    But just to tell you my side of the story, I Started feeling ALL OF THOSE SYMPTOMS at around age 16, and I am 19 now, And Let me tell ya, NOTHING is worse than the "unreal" feeling. But good news! I have beaten it! :) without the Hint of medication in sight! :) So two years it took me... "Sucks eh" your thinking? Two years untill you beat this crap of a "Mind set"? Well I am not one of those F***S on the internet selling their "anixety cure Techs. For $50!" What a load of shit eh?

    No I am not :) I am a Helper and I will share with you, and everyone else who wants to read, How I, Desperado, Gainded control of my life :) (Desperado Isn't my real name ;) )

    I sound like a gloating Douche..... But meh already typeded it ;)

    First off I have been on this fourm for a while and I can say with confidence that this board, and it's members, have indeed helped me "recover" from the paranoid, anixey ridden state. I owe this Fourm and members A big thanks :)

    Check out my post on this thread To Better undertand what I was going through (I dont wanna type it again)

    And another one (Check out my post (and the others I guess:rolleyes:))

    Yet another

    Read everyones post there, and get more information about what your going through.. Oh and I wanna say this.

    What you have is not a Illness, or a Disesse, it is your own thoughts turning against you. (Sounds F'ed up eh?) But its true! when You are about to have a panic attack, or getting an anixety attack, You are thinking about getting one, and not wanting one. But you try and fight it, only to make it worse. you need to learn to not be afraid of them, you need to control your thoughts and accept the weirder ones. I know what your thinking (maybe) "I do not like having panic attacks, So when they are coming I freeze and my mind totally goes into them, Then im screwed" True but once you start "recovery" they will stop coming, Or you will Not Care when they do come; which will cause them to stop comming too.

    What I did to get rid of ALL of my symptoms is I told my parents I smoked weed (That was a mildly big load off my mind) and I left my friends of whom I smoked all the time with. basically I did things that I was scared of doing. I felt nothing in the moment i did them, but days later I was not getting panic attacks anymore, I was not feeling weird...

    But you know, To say I am complety 100% "cured" of this Imaginary illness would be lying. I do something Feel the "choking sensation" and the unreal feeling is like 90% gone. Its just I am able to not go over board when I do feel these things and remain in a happy mood. Oh yea, I am truly happy now too :p

    It might be that you are feeling traped. You need to do things that you like and want to do, or find things that will make you happy and do them, not caring about what other people think or say.

    You wont fix this over night, but it is like any self teaching method, repeat it to yourself (That you are in control, and nothing can take control of your mind) It is hard to convince yourself not to feel overwhelmed, but you can do it :)

    OH lol and to answer your question, I have been on a 5 month break from weed, So I'd say, Quit smoking for a while untill you got this undercontrol.

    You can do it man, I did and F*** I thought I was going to be a vegtable for the rest of my life, but not no more.

    It is all in your head, you control whats in your head, So control that too!

    There is no "generic" way to beat this, you just gotta get it in your mind that what you are feeling is not life threaten, and cannot hurt you in ANYWAY! However you go from there is yours to decide, If you got any questions PM me, or Email at

    You can do it!

    EDIT* You should read up on the philosophy board, One idea of why we are experencing this crap is that we are incontent with our life, and the future of what our life is "supposed" to be. I Am thinking that I do not want the Conventional lifestyle "Going to bars, Picking up girls, getting a job in a "busness"" I really don't want my life to be told to me HOw i should live it! It is OUR LIVES isn't it? Who can say you should live this way because it is "Normal" Fuck that! I will live my life in a shack eating berrys in the woods, talking to my made up friend "betsy" If I want to! ( I don't but, I hope you get the point) That gets me back to the "traped" feeling. Whenver I think of my future Being Decided by "the Media" or "Populair opion of what Life is" I get the feelings of Anixety, But when I think of life as how I might like to do it, Or How I can carve my own path in thsi world, I am filled with a sensation of relaxation and giddyness. I can;t wait For me to start my life in this world the way I want to.

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