Cannabis Science

Can Weed Cause Panic Attacks?

woman having a panic attack sitting on the floor with hands over heart

Cannabis has different effects on different people, and even if you’ve used it before, you might not have the same response every time you take it.

Whether you’re utilizing it to relieve mental health issues or to enhance your appetite, it might function just as you intended. However, it might sometimes make you feel more stressed and anxious, especially if you’re using a tetrahydrocannabinol-rich product (THC).

Some cannabis users may develop panic attacks. This is because cannabis consumption can result in side effects like an elevated heart rate, anxious thoughts, and uneasiness. Individuals already experiencing anxiety are more likely to have panic episodes while using marijuana.

So, can weed cause panic attacks? Here’s what we know.

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Can Weed Cause Panic Attacks?

In a 2010 research reported in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers looked into panic behaviors in cannabis consumers in the United States. Age, wealth, ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic standing were all taken into account to address the question ‘Can smoking weed cause panic attacks?’

After taking these factors into account, researchers concluded that marijuana usage is linked to an increased risk of panic attacks.

In fact, people who have smoked weed for a long time are more prone to having been diagnosed with panic disorders, according to the study. Cannabis also treats generalized anxiety disorder in some cases.

Can Quitting Weed Cause Panic Attacks?

If you have been using cannabis excessively for a few months, either on a routine basis, in binge episodes, or as an addiction, you’re bound to feel cannabis withdrawal if you stop abruptly.

Although cannabis withdrawal usually lasts between one to two weeks, some pot smokers undergo withdrawal symptoms for several weeks or months, a condition called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) during which they may experience panic attacks. 

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Panic Attack-Related Risk Factors While Consuming Weed

According to Medical News Today, contemporary cannabis studies focus on teens who are more prone to trying cannabis for the first time. Regular use among adults provides a better understanding of who might experience a panic attack as a consequence of their frequent use.

Up to 25% of cannabis smokers may develop problems. Another 25% of this group may be already suffering from an anxiety problem. People who experienced anxiety as teenagers are more inclined to use marijuana excessively as adults.

Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack

In the absence of real danger or apparent reason, a panic attack is a sudden bout of acute terror that generates severe physical reactions. Panic attacks can be extremely terrifying. When panic attacks strike, you may assume you’re unable to take control, suffering from a cardiac arrest, or perhaps even dying.

Some signs of a panic attack are:

  • Excess perspiration and shivering 
  • Increased feeling of devastation 
  • Elevated fears of being scrutinized and judged by others 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • A feeling of being choked 
  • Experiencing chest pain 
  • Experiencing numbness, dizziness, and sudden chills

How to Prevent Weed-Triggered Panic Attacks?

Here are a few steps that’ll help you prevent a panic attack:

  • Lower your dosage: Those who have previously had panic attacks or anxiety after consuming cannabis should proceed cautiously.
  • Consume supplements containing citicoline:  Marijuana reduces the amount of this nutrient in the body for a short time. Citicoline is well-known for its ability to control anxiety and mood.
  • Use sedative strains as an alternative: Certain cannabis strains, especially indicas, produce a more calming high rather than the buzzed high feeling characteristic of sativas .

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there is no means of preventing panic attacks. Instead, you may only use tactics to assist you to cope with symptoms when they arise. If diagnosed with panic disorder, up to 90% of people can live full lives if they receive therapy at the right time.

Unfortunately, most people who suffer from panic disorder do not seek treatment. In the following aspects, the disorder differs from a typical panic attack:

  • You are frequently nervous or stressed.
  • You’re wondering if you’ll have another panic attack.
  • You can also suffer from agoraphobia or a fear of being in public places.
  • You stay away from situations that could trigger a panic attack.

It’s crucial to note that using cannabis on a regular basis to excess correlates to the development of panic attacks and panic disorder. 

How to Handle a Weed-Induced Panic Attack?

Having a friend to comfort you during a panic attack can be beneficial. If you notice someone else having a panic attack, tell them that everything will be fine. 

Medical News Today offers a few more pointers:

  • If this is your first panic attack, see a doctor
  • Breathe in slowly from the stomach, letting the lungs inflate completely.
  • If medicine has been prescribed, take it as directed.
  • Unless you’ve recently ingested a benzodiazepine, inhale lavender smells.
  • Find a quiet spot or a quiet corner. This can help to alleviate the stress that triggers a panic attack.
  • Determine what triggers panic episodes and try to avoid them.

A panic attack is not considered an emergency by 911. However, if you do phone them, they will accommodate your plea for an ambulance if you believe you require one. Panic episodes are unpleasant, even if they’re not hazardous. Having them on a regular basis could indicate that you’re suffering from a panic disorder and should get extra assistance.

People with panic attacks will almost certainly continue to smoke cannabis. Consult a doctor to determine whether you are suffering from a panic attack or a panic disorder. 


A panic attack isn’t life-threatening. Even still, it doesn’t make it any less terrifying, so you’ll probably want to skip experiencing another one in the future.

So, can weed cause a panic attack? Yes, it can. The only way to completely prevent a panic attack brought on by weed is to stop consuming it or reduce your intake. Even so, opting for low-THC cannabis products or those with nearly the same amount of CBD and THC can reduce your chances of having another one.