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What gives?

Is it possible to “overdose” or have a “bad reaction” to marijuana?

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. 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.

What causes a bad trip?

Research suggests this excess of cannabinoids may overstimulate the amygdala, making you feel fear and anxiety. Not everyone experiences paranoia after using cannabis.

So, what makes someone more likely to experience it? According to an animal study fromcannabis tends to produce positive effects, such as relaxation and decreased anxiety, when it provides more stimulation to the front region of the brain.

Study authors suggest this has to do with the large of reward-producing opioid receptors in the front of the brain. If the back portion of your brain has more THC sensitivity than the anterior, however, you could experience an adverse reaction, which often includes paranoia and anxiety.

Using marijuana with higher THC content may also contribute to paranoia and other negative symptoms. A study looking at 42 healthy adults found evidence to suggest that consuming 7. A higher dose of A animal study exploring THC tolerance found evidence suggesting higher estrogen levels can increase cannabis sensitivity by as much as 30 percent and lower tolerance for marijuana. What does this mean for you? This goes for positive effects, like pain reliefas well as negative effects, like paranoia.

Quick info

Some people report that yoga and deep breathing exercisesparticularly alternate nostril breathing, can also help. Cannabinoids and terpenoids, such as the terpenes in pepper, share some chemical similarities, which may be one reason why they seem to have some benefit for countering the effects of too much THC. If you have fresh peppercorns, grind them up and take a deep breath. Got a lemon? Limonene, another terpene, may also help with the effects of too much THC. If possible, try to go somewhere you feel more relaxed, like your bedroom or a quiet space outdoors. So, you made it through an episode of paranoia and you never, ever want to experience that again.

One option is to just skip the cannabis, but this might not be ideal if you find some of its other effects beneficial. Fortunately, there are a several things you can do to reduce your chance of having another bout of cannabis-related paranoia.

What is a bad trip?

Decreasing the amount of cannabis you consume at a time may lower your chances of experiencing paranoia again. Plus, research suggests that CBD-rich cannabis may have antipsychotic effects. Paranoia is considered a psychotic symptom.

Some people also report that strains with a pine, citrus, or peppery scent remember those terpenes? Some evidence suggests people with an existing sensitivity to paranoia and anxious thoughts have a higher chance of experiencing both when using cannabis. Paranoia can overwhelm you to the point where it becomes difficult to interact with others.

You might avoid talking to friends, going to work, or even leaving your house. A therapist can help you explore these feelings and other potential contributing factors. Since paranoia can happen as a symptom of serious mental health conditions like schizophreniaanything beyond a few passing, mild paranoid thoughts may be worth bringing up with your healthcare provider.

A therapist can offer more support by helping you identify contributing factors and teaching coping methods to help you manage anxiety symptoms in the moment. If you recently stopped using cannabis, you may still experience some feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and other mood symptoms.

What causes a bad trip?

Research from suggests lasting paranoia can happen as a symptom of cannabis withdrawal syndrome CWS. According to this review, which looked at studies exploring CWS, mood and behavioral symptoms tend to be the primary effects of cannabis withdrawal. Paranoia can feel a little unsettling at best and downright terrifying at worst. Try to keep calm and remember it will likely disappear once your cannabis high starts to wear off. If you notice particularly intense thoughts, or paranoia that persists even when you stop using cannabis, talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional as soon as possible.

Crystal Raypole has ly worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health.

Why does marijuana help some people's anxiety symptoms and worsen those of others? Paranoia is an irrational suspicion or mistrust of others.

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Cannabis Got You Paranoid? How to Deal With It. Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph. Why it happens. Why you might be more prone to it.

How to handle it. How to avoid it in the future. I stopped using cannabis — why do I still feel paranoid? The bottom line.

Read this next. Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm. Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph. Medically reviewed by Jeffrey Chen, MD.

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