What is Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders & How is it Treated?

Addiction to drugs has been there from the very beginning of human civilization. Civilized human society needed ecstasy either to escape from reality or to enjoy the reality with intense pleasures. Human seek pleasures from various activities. Addiction to drugs has been one of them. It brings great pleasure to human body but for a horrendous cost. Like we all know, human brain treats information all alike. It does not discriminate information. The pleasure centre of the human brain, if fed with constant pleasures will eventually require more. The excessive intake of drugs results in devastating health effects. Marijuana is one such drug regarded as a schedule one drug by US government. Marijuana has earned its rightful place in schedule for its devastating effects on human body. Although, it has some good effects like increasing sleep and appetite, the devastating effects when steps in can ruin the health.

What is Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders & How is it Treated?

Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders: An Overview

One of the most common and devastating effects of marijuana addiction is anxiety disorders. Usually, when someone smokes marijuana regularly, fits of anxiety are not noticed in that individual. As soon as that person decides to stop taking marijuana, the withdrawal effects start plaguing him. Anxiety related problems are the most horrendous withdrawal effect noted as withdrawal symptoms in marijuana addicts.

Characteristics of Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders

The profound characteristics observed in people having marijuana induced anxiety disorders are:

  • Sudden fits of Anxiety
  • Periods of intense worry
  • Strong urge to hurt self or others
  • Loss of Sleep
  • Urges to destroy things
  • Fear of death
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Depersonalization.

How Does Marijuana Induce Anxiety Disorders?

From the beginning of history of drugs, all drugs have been having a complex relationship with anxiety disorders. Marijuana is not an exception. On one hand, it has become notable for being a natural relaxing element, for accumulating better sleep. On another hand, its withdrawal symptoms have been noted to be just the opposite. For some people, marijuana works like magic reducing anxiety and increasing better sleep. However, on others, it can have adverse effects. Instead of having better sleep, one can experience massive loss of sleep and in case of anxiety marijuana might make it worse instead of easing it. It can, even create anxiety disorder of its own, as it is a very common withdrawal symptom. The extreme symptom happens when the drug is withdrawn. The areas in the brain accounted for pleasure suffers from intense deprivation of the good feeling making it hard for the person to cope. As a result along with the other withdrawal symptoms, anxiety attacks and disorders become very intense.

How to Differentiate Between Anxiety Disorders and Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders?

Marijuana induced anxiety disorders have certain aspects that differentiate them from anxiety attacks and disorders.

Anxiety disorders are noticed in many human beings. A person can react to uncertainty or uneasy positions with fits of anxiety. However, if a person stays anxious most of the time either due on some specific issues or become anxious for most of the things for a significant period of time and which affects his life drastically and impairs his normal functioning, then a person is diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder. However, these are not due to any drug intoxication or withdrawal.

In contrary, marijuana induced anxiety disorder happens when a person is addicted to marijuana and has suddenly stopped the intake. Marijuana induced anxiety disorders is usually a withdrawal symptoms of the drug. They have a common pattern or a common time when it takes effect. This isn’t true in case of anxiety disorders.

Duration of Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders

Usually, a normal fit of anxiety might last for a few minutes to an hour in an individual; however, it varies from person to person. In contrary, for marijuana induced anxiety disorders the duration of the fits can be notably longer as compared to anxiety disorders. Some have noted ten hour long lingering anxious feelings. In general, all anxiety disorders have some triggers that flare up the anxious feelings. However, in case of marijuana induced anxiety disorders even the most insignificant thing can work as a trigger and get a person fumed up in seconds. In other words, it might not need any reason at all. There are instances where people still feel anxious after waking up from sleep.

Unreasonable fits of anxiety in uniform intervals for longer durations are signs of marijuana induced anxiety disorders.

Diagnosis of Marijuana induced Anxiety disorders

Marijuana induced anxiety disorders are not very hard to diagnose. They have a very common pattern. They only start surfacing when a person stops smoking marijuana after smoking on a regular basis. Right after withdrawal from the drug, insomnia is seen as the most usual symptom. Slowly, short anxiety attacks surface until they form a pattern and become anxiety disorder. For diagnosis, the mental health professional takes a detailed history including family history and also takes the history of substance abuse. The doctor checks for the following:

  • Onset of symptoms soon after intoxication or withdrawal
  • The onset of symptom was in no way present before the initiation of drug use
  • No past history of mental illness or anxiety disorders
  • Absence of delirium symptoms during the anxiety attacks
  • The anxiety attacks are intense enough to cause significant disturbance in occupational, social, personal and other important areas of functioning.

Treatment of Marijuana Induced Anxiety Disorders

Once diagnosed, it is not very hard to control. There are various programs that help people in fighting with marijuana addiction and its drastic effects. Behavioral programs that strengthen a person mentally and medications help in treating a person.

  • Medications: Till date there isn’t any medication found specific to the treatment of disorders caused due to marijuana use. However, antidepressants like Nefazodone (Serzone) and Fluoxetine have been proven to be effective in treating anxiety disorders induced by marijuana use and withdrawal.
  • Behavioral Therapies: Counseling and behavioral therapies have proven to be highly effective in treating marijuana induced anxiety disorders. The different types of therapies included are:
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Also commonly known as CBT, this therapy focuses on teaching an individual the skills required to refrain from addiction. It also helps in altering or modifying negative thoughts that lead to negative feelings and actions (addiction to drugs). In addition to this CBT also helps a person and equip them for handling crisis or problems of life that might trigger a recurrence of abuse or prevent the person from a successful recovery.
    • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) helps a person for changing the addiction behavior by boosting their motivation. The therapy is formulated to lower the level of resistance to refrain from drug abuse that an addict may have.
    • Contingency Management: Contingency Management (CM) therapy relies on urine test that check for the presence of drugs. When the test comes clear, an individual is given reward to reinforce the behavior.
  • Family Therapies: Along with these, family therapies are done to incorporate the entire family into the process of rehabilitation of the person to ensure minimal chance of relapse. The support of family and friends result in faster recovery.


Even if smoking marijuana brings momentary joy to a person’s life or helps to soothe pain, improves sleep etc., it does so for a terrible cost. It might also be having adverse effect on some. Coming back to normality depends on many factors and is not always possible for a few. They often live a short agony-filled life. Thus, it is better to avoid marijuana or any drug for that matter to stay healthy and fit. If you have already taken, seek help immediately to prevent the occurrence of drastic health complications.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 11, 2018

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