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Does Quitting Marijuana Increase Anxiety and Depression?

Discussion in 'Marijuana' started by Cat1987, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. Cat1987

    Cat1987 Member

    I have been trying to quit marijuana after using it daily for five years. I haven't been able to bring myself to quit because I am so worried about the anxiety and depression that will follow when I quit. Is this just a normal part of quitting and something I have to go through? Or is there a way to stop using marijuana without becoming depressed or anxious. Has anyone else experienced this or is there any information or research that might help motivate me to quit?
    Joseph, mannyme, sarahm and 1 other person like this.
  2. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Hi Cat, in my experience it wasn't exactly easy to quit without going through some degree of depression and anxiety. It was bumpy at first but got easier with each month, although some months were more difficult than others. But I think like everything else, it depends. Some people have reported to be immediately free of their depression and anxiety immediately, while others have their own opinions on how many weeks or months it takes to "get over the hump." Plus, there are many biological factors. Some marijuana users haven't experienced depression or anxiety at all and they're using it perhaps for other reasons. So it's difficult to estimate exactly how long it will take or what you will experience at all. The good thing is that you're aware of your barriers to making a positive life change for yourself and are willing to reach out for help. Awareness is the first step!
    Joseph, Cat1987 and FreeSpirit like this.
  3. Joseph

    Joseph Community Organizer Community Listener

    Hi Cat1987, thanks for asking your question and it's a very common question. Sarahm is accurate in saying that your withdrawal symptoms will depend on so many factors. I lot of what you fear can be avoided or at least managed by preparing for this big change in your biochemistry and your daily habits. Here are a couple things that can really help get through this transition:

    1. Eat well (lots of fruits and veggies)
    2. Drink lots of water
    3. Get lots of sleep
    4. Exercise regularly
    5. Meditate or do breathing exercises
    6. Drink calming or herbal teas
    7. Avoid stressful situations

    The important thing is that you have set the intention to address your issue, and from here on out it will be a matter of finding the guidance and knowledge you need to make the changes you desire. Our site provides a lot of great resources and information that will help you approach your issues. And remember, we're here to support you!
    Cat1987, sarahm and FreeSpirit like this.
  4. FreeSpirit

    FreeSpirit Member

    In my case stopping the herb (and everything else) helped with my anxiety and depression. It was bad for a couple weeks after quitting because I had to find new ways to relieve stress but it did get better. I like the recommendations that RecoveryMentor suggested and I would add stop hanging out with other people who smoke or use (I guess that would be "Avoid stressful situations" lol. My advice would be to not spend too much time worrying about what it will be like and just making a conscious decision to embrace the challenge. You can do this!
    Joseph, Cat1987 and sarahm like this.
  5. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Hey Cat,
    Were you experiencing anxiety and depression before you started smoking marijuana?
    I used to self medicate for those reasons - BIG TIME, so the solution for me was to figure out the underlying cause of my anxiety/depression with a psychiatrist. Even if these problems didn't exist before you started smoking, things could still be a little intense in the beginning. Studies have shown marijuana does impact the "feel good" chemical in our brains (seratonin). I'm definitely not a medical professional, but I believe the longer you stay clean the more balanced you should become provided you do not have an underlying anxiety/depression issue. :)
    Joseph, Cat1987 and sarahm like this.
  6. Cat1987

    Cat1987 Member

    Yes I have been dealing with depression and anxiety issues since I was a kid. I used to drink a lot before I started smoking five years ago and that's how I was self medicating before for a long time. The strange thing is that I get depressed and anxious even on marijuana but I'm still afraid to quit. It's like I fear it will be worse and unbearable and I won't have anything to cling onto if I do.

    Thanks for sharing the article. Potent in low doses and worsens depression at high doses was particularly concerning to me as i go into my dark place with the more I smoke. I think I really need to quit.
    Joseph likes this.
  7. Cat1987

    Cat1987 Member

    Thanks for the great ideas everyone!
    Joseph and Jen S. like this.
  8. Cat1987

    Cat1987 Member

    Not hanging out with others who smoke is a good one. Luckily for me nobody I know smokes except me so I'm good there :) Thanks for the encouragement FreeSpirit!
    Joseph likes this.
  9. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    No problem. I was surprised to read how much the dosage could impact depression for better or worse. In my experience it was extremely difficult to stay clean and sober without addressing the underlying psychological issues that were a part (not all, but part) of the reason I began self-medicating. Choosing a board certified addiction psychiatrist was probably one of the best decisions I could have made. The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry explains the sub-specialty a bit more and also has a database of doctors you can search if you're interested.
    Joseph and mannyme like this.
  10. mannyme

    mannyme Member

    I think you just have to force yourself to go through it and not analyze it so much. It's great that you're seeking help to prepare you...don't get me wrong. Just try not to be too afraid of embracing the unknown, even if it's not all great. You'll learn a lot about yourself as you're trying to quit. I need to take my own advice with the alcohol. Good luck!
    Joseph likes this.
  11. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    For the most part I agree with you here, mannyme. However, I do consider people (like me) who have both a substance abuse and mental health disorder an exception to the "go with the flow" rule. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life. Someone suffering from a mental health disorder may be literally incapable of "pulling themselves out of it". Not seeking help can be a dangerous situation.

    I think feeling depressed is a normal part of addiction and early recovery, but clinical depression is an entirely different beast.

    It is estimated that about 17.5 million Americans over the age of 18 (or 8 percent of the adult population) had a serious mental health disorder in the past year. Of these, about 4 million people also struggled with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency. Read more about dual diagnosis here.
    Joseph likes this.
  12. Cat1987

    Cat1987 Member

    Well I have definitely cut back a lot the past few days. I know it's not quitting, but it's something, right? :)
    Joseph and Jen S. like this.
  13. Interesting question to me because I am currently trying to help someone who uses marijuana to deal with anxiety and depression. He has tried to cut back on several occasions, he smokes at least 3 or 4 times a day starting from the time he wakes up, and when he tries to cut back he doesn't experience depression or anxiety as much as he is cranky and maybe feels depressed because he wants something he can't have and thinks he needs. I think the best way I could describe it is similar to someone who is trying to quit smoking cigarettes. I would recommend digging in and trying to get through this. I have seen friends quit or at least seriously cut back how frequently they smoke and I think at one point or another they have all felt a little depressed because of it. Of course if you really feel awful I think you should acknowledge these feelings and get help if needed but this could also just be the way your body goes through the quitting process. Best of Luck!
    Joseph likes this.
  14. vdenayb23

    vdenayb23 Member

    Hi I just wanted to say that it is good that you are trying to kick this habit. I am in the process myself it is not easy but I have not smoked in 8 days I sleep alot and drink alot of gatorade. I also meditate. try to keep busy while your up remove any triggers that make you wanna smoke. good luck my friend! It will get better and easier over time.
  15. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    From personal experience I found that once you have quit marijuana and gone through the 4-to-6 week period of getting it out of your system, the anxiety seems to go away. In fact, although it may not seem like it, in the long-term marijuana actually exacerbates anxiety and depression and causes it to become worse.

    Giving up may have side effects at first, such as not being able to sleep and feeling depressed, but this is only temporary and should only be a minor concern. Once you get past it you actually begin to feel a lot cleaner, fresher and happier and it's not until you reach that point that you begin to realize what the marijuana was really doing to you.
  16. stagsonline

    stagsonline Active Contributor

    Just like other drugs, you will definitely experience some withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and depression for a varying period of time. Considering that you have been smoking for five years daily, the process of changing to a new life of staying away from marijuana will have a significant change in your normal feelings. I would suggest that you gradually reduce the number of times you smoke daily and then start skipping days then see how you feel. Stopping suddenly can be hard so give yourself some time to adjust.
  17. atlantic

    atlantic Member

    I can't offer much more advice than what everyone here has already covered, but I just wanted to chime in that it will be well worth the clarifying feeling. I got there, so many other people do too, and you can as well. Eventually smoking marijuana will seem like it was always pointless when you have your head levelled again, dependency free.
  18. GenevB

    GenevB Community Champion

    Of course that after 5 days of taking it daily you shall have some problems. It's a big shock to the body which got used to it, you should try taking it slow, use it 3-4 times a week, then lower to dose just so you won't experience any bad trips because quitting it.
  19. sarahxalex

    sarahxalex Member

    Hi Cat,
    you're very strong for wanting to quit. I too was once very reliable on marijuana and every time I wouldn't smoke it I would get very down and just upset about everything. I think the anxiety and depression is all in your head and if you quit with a positive attitude it will really help. Yes it will be very hard but you can do it. If you also get a support system (friends, family, anyone) it can be much easier on you. Make sure you get lots of exercise, drink lots of water, eat healthy, hang out with friends, try not to stress yourself as much. Of course you will have bad days but you can get better and I believe in you.
  20. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I don't think quitting will make you depressed or anxious unless you already have those issues to begin with. From what I understand you might even be more able to deal with it sober since you'd be out of your head much easier than you would on pot. I suggest just giving it a try to see for yourself, but just don't give up too early, since the first month is usually the hardest, and if you find you don't like it then it would only have been one or two months that have passed and I don't think you would consider that so much wasted time of not smoking.