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Marijuana Paranoia – Oxford Researchers Prove Pot Bad For Your Mood

marijuana paranoia is real

by Andrea M. Darcy

Is marijuana paranoia a serious issue for mental health?

Marijuana paranoia

Over 2.3 million Brits reported themselves as using marijuana within the last year.

Ask a marijuana user why they smoke, and they might claim marijuana makes them feel better or more relaxed. But is marijuana really a good option if a better mood is your goal?

For those suffering chronic illness, perhaps. Recent studies around the helpful effects of marijuana on extreme pain management, as well as on the therapeutic benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, are ongoing and intriguing.

But as for recreational and casual users, and for those users who already suffer from mental health issues like low moods and stress? Maybe not.

Pot paranoia is real

The largest yet study yet of the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis has finally proven that ‘pot paranoia’ isn’t a myth but a reality. It’s more likely that marijuana is making your brain anxious, not happy.

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The study was carried out by the University of Oxford, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and the University of Manchester. It looked at the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The researchers used THC to examine key cognitive patterns behind paranoia in those aged 21 to 50.

Marijuana, Paranoia, and DepressionAll participants had used cannabis at least once prior, and had no history of mental health issues. They were given either a placebo or THC. The THC was administered intravenously and in a similar dose to a strong joint.

The participants were then put in a real social situation, a sort of ‘virtual reality experiment’. The result? THC was proven to be directly linked to having worried thoughts and feeling vulnerable. Around half who were given THC reported paranoid thinking, whereas only 30% of the placebo group did.

The study also found a significant increase in “anxiety, worry, depression, negative thoughts about the self… and reduced working memory capacity”. 

Short-term effects, and yet….

So cannabis use has a good chance of causing low moods and a decrease, not increase, in your productivity. Neither of which is going to lead to a better sense of wellbeing long term.

Of course the study doesn’t prove that anyone who smokes marijuana will experience overwhelming paranoia. The paranoid feelings were shown to wear off as the cannabis leaves the bloodstream.

And it’s true that all of us experience paranoia now and then, whether or not we smoke pot. Fears that someone or something will hurt us that are not based on fact tend to come up when we don’t sleep well for several nights. Or when we have a stressful series of life circumstances that make us feel insecure.

Cannabis and Paranoia

But the study does put paid to the idealisation of marijuana as merely a natural relaxant, or as a substance that, unlike alcohol and cigarettes, is apparently always good for your health.

Marijuana and psychosis

Whether or not the paranoia largely ends, there is another link that shows it’s serious. Paranoia is one of the leading symptoms of far more serious psychotic disorders.

And other studies have  highlighted that those who start using cannabis at a young age have a higher risk for developing bipolar disorder or even schizophrenia.

And the more you are already dealing with mental health, the more you might suffer paranoia. The study paper claims that it “definitively demonstrated that the drug triggers paranoid thoughts in vulnerable individuals”.

Instead of marijuana paranoia try this

If you do suffer from mental health issues, the take away is, mental health and marijuana don’t always mix well.

So if you suffer from low moods, anxiety, and depression, don’t forget that exercise, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, and working with a good therapist are all healthy ways to try to feel better. Smoking marijuana, even if it gives you a temporary good feeling, is probably an idea best left to go up in smoke.

*photos by Blind Nomad, Benjamin Watson, Valerie Everett


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Blog Topics: Addiction, Anxiety & Stress

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