Article by Sera Jane Ghaly, Weed Seed Shop
Have you ever wondered why cannabis makes some people extremely relaxed while it can lead to increased anxiety for others? The paranoid experience that is often associated with marijuana can be blamed on a cauldron pot of chemical reactions in the brain. This article covers the entire topic, from why it happens to how to handle it if it happens.
The question of social anxiety or paranoia after cannabis use is an interesting topic, because some users report reduced anxiety whereas others report a completely paranoid experience. Marijuana affects every user differently, and that’s what makes the marijuana experience is so special. However, a better understanding of what marijuana is doing in the brain will help us understand why some people are prone to anxiety and why for others it is reduced.
Even seasoned marijuana users experience social anxiety sometimes after they use cannabis, as it can manifest sometimes in just mild worrying or an overactive mind. In most cases, this is how it begins, but it can easily snowball into what is considered a full-blown paranoid attack.
Despite this, marijuana is being prescribed these days to patients with PTSD because of its power to reduce anxiety. So then, wherein does the variable lie? What is it about different people that is causing marijuana to behave differently in them?
It’s all in your head!
Those who are experiencing paranoia or anxiety are often told that what is happening to them is all in their head, and this couldn’t be more correct! Of course, it is not correct in the conventional way of understanding this phrase. It might not be that the person is just making up stories in their head, but that the stories are a result of chemistry in the brain that has become super excited under the influence of marijuana.
Marijuana contains cannabinoids which are responsible for what give the user the high effect. The human body also has cannabinoids naturally present in it, and there is an entire endocannabinoid system in the brain that is active as an everyday part of our experience. Cannabinoids are present in the brain to either inhibit or encourage the firing of a particular neuron.
When we take cannabinoids come into the body through the use of marijuana, we are effectively interfering with the natural process that is occurring. Marijuana use interferes with the natural firing process of neurons, meaning that some neurons can be firing at a rate much faster than during sober life experience.
So, what does this mean for the user? It means that thoughts can be amplified exponentially, and what begins as a lousy meandering thought can turn into a complicated delusion as it snowballs. Usually the person who is at the mercy of this experience doesn’t have any control over it and can begin to believe the thoughts that are happening in the mind. This explains why some people experience social paranoia under the influence of marijuana.
But what explains why some people experience reduced anxiety?
Of course, not everyone who uses marijuana experiences social anxiety. So what explains the discrepancy? THC acts on the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for responding to fear. This is the part of the brain where we decide to fight or flight. Not every endocannabinoid system was created equal, meaning that there are some people out there whose endocannabinoid systems are underperforming. It has been observed that this is usually the case with those who have experienced severe trauma or stress, as in the case with PTSD patients.
For people in this situation, taking cannabinoids into the body through marijuana use actually works to regulate the endocannabinoid system in the brain. THC effectively helps restore the endocannabinoid system to a state where it is more in harmony with the natural movement of cannabinoids within the brain and body. So it seems that having too many cannabinoids present is what can cause the adverse effect.