I.Q. Reversal: Marijuana induced depersonalization

Photo by Petr Brož

Smoking cannabis is often advertised as a relaxing and insightful experience, yet some of the more vulnerable and predisposed individuals will have the unfortunate honor to explore the other side of the spectrum. Not only can smoking of marijuana lead to the commonly worshiped euphoria and increase in appetite, but it can equally elicit macabre states of consciousness such as prolonged feelings of ego-devouring dissociation accompanied by intense sensations of anxiety. This complex of perception and affect are commonly referred to as depersonalization, derealization or simply dissociation. Whilst some seek and take delight in this dissociative state, others find it so uncanny and repulsive that they would be willing to give anything for it to stop; ironically, it is this strong emotional imprint that prevents you from immediate recovery, as you are constantly focusing on the negativity it conveys, and so give the anxiety ridden state no space to recede to. How can one put a halt to such a vicious loop of agony? The following will, for the sake of helping one resolve this dissociative dilemma, address common inquires and elucidate the imperative steps for breaking the apparently never-ending cycle:

Is depersonalization permanent? Will it ever end or do I have live like this for the rest of my life?Drug induced depersonalization is rarely permanent and will usually completely recede given enough time and care. Do not expect an over-night recovery though, as this is not likely going to happen. The recovery happens gradually, in small increments. You need time to consciously make sense of the whole confusion, and so does your unconscious need time to assimilate the changes and slowly revert to a more serene mode of operation. If you trust in recovery and are willing to make some changes in your life, then you are on your way to resurrection.Have I inflicted some form of brain damage or irreversibly doomed my emotions?

No, you do not need to worry, the feelings or the lack of them are not due to brain damage, but, at most, rather functional anomalies of brain regions implicated in emotion and cognition. It is nothing irreversible; the intensity will slowly drop until you reach natural calmness. Nevertheless, you will need to abstain from drug use in order to give way for recovery.

Why does it affect me while others can enjoy weed/psychedelics without having to go through this nightmare?

A predisposition is prerequisite to eliciting panic attacks and depersonalization. Those with latent anxiety disorders and similar forms of psychiatric distress are high at risk. Because cannabis is a psychedelic, it amplifies your internal states; in other words set (emotion) and setting (environment) play a major role in the use of any drugs. If you are a jittery, shy, anxious person then these traits are likely to be surfaced and further exploited by the use of psychedelics. This makes analysis and resolution of internal problems easier on the one hand, but, on the other hand, can confuse and overwhelm those unprepared for such revelations.

How do I overcome depersonalization, and what should I do to speed up the recovery by as much as possible?

There is a legion of healthy habits one may and is advised to adapt in order to mitigate the acute distress as well as shorten the total duration of suffering.

Exercise, especially aerobic, is one of such approaches. Not only does exercise facilitate the release of mood elating neurochemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, but it also promotes the growth of new neuronal connections in a brain region, known as hippocampus, responsible for cognitive processes. Funnily enough, the very same region is often the victim of depression. Therefore, by exercising, you can even correct what might potentially have been eroded.

Supplements, such as magnesium, GABA, L-theanine, and many more, may provide an acute relief and even a long-term benefit.

Meditation is another great implement for gaining relief. During meditation you may learn to breathe more deeply and rhythmically, analyze the very sources of your struggles, and enhance your focus; all of which add to resources required for a complete recovery.There are many more approaches, both conventional and extraordinary, you might want to consider and try out for yourself. Many of the techniques psychologists/psychiatrists advertise for recovery purposes tend to be ubiquitous in action and will address both physical and mental well-being, so do not be afraid to experiment!

I cannot get rid of catastrophic thoughts and am tempted to think of the worst case scenarios.

These thoughts are the fuel to panic attacks, and it is these thoughts to which you will need to immunize yourself in order to abate the panic attacks. Thinking along the lines: “I feel like I am turning crazy!” is a natural concomitant of intense anxiety and is to be expected. Paradoxically, if you were indeed turning insane, you wouldn’t be aware of it. Every time these thoughts assail you, take a step back and engage your logical thinking into the equation. Tell yourself that these are just harmless thoughts, intangible creations of your aroused mind, which present you with exaggerated and unlikely possibilities. Gradually, you will learn to replace the fearful associations with neutral or logical ones and so strip the panic attacks off their noxiousness.

Remember, time is the critical factor and the most powerful healer, and so do not underestimate its power. Even though you might feel like you are doing no immediate progress after implementing some of the above-mentioned techniques, give them a chance to take their full effect; after enough time has elapsed you will grow to appreciate what they did for your anxiety and depersonalization.gical ones and so strip the panic attacks off their noxiousness.

Article by Patrick Andersen

17 Responses to "I.Q. Reversal: Marijuana induced depersonalization"

  1. Michelle   May 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Another option that was helpful for my daughter was NeurOptimal brain training. If you need to find a trainer, maybe go to their website? I am lucky and have a friend who does this training. It took about 10 sessions total – 3 in one weekend (she was away at college so we could only get her scheduled on weekends) and then when she came home about 2 times per weekend. She is now thankfully just back to her old self. No more operating as if she didn’t feel human anymore. Wishing you all the best in your recovery. Be patient. Everything we read just like the article above said is that it takes time to resolve. I think this brain training thing just helped her system to calm down quicker? Probably different for everyone.

  2. Mn   July 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I got out of this state in 3 months. Running, going to the gym, and meditating got me out. It can be horrible, you become very existential and self-aware, you feel automatic or in a movie, you feel your senses “separated”, the world/universe feels strange, like some random thing out of nowhere (isn’t it?), society stops making sense, and you feel very worried about realizing all of it and want to be “normal” again. Don’t worry people, you will get to your normal state again, it takes time, for some people it can take weeks, some months. Just exercise, try not to think too much about it and force yourself to socialize, it will be over eventually.

    • Marc   July 26, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Wow, I’ve had a very similar experience.
      I went through 3 months of hell as well, with intense dissociation which made every single thing I did, from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, to a living nightmare. I could not enjoy a single thing for 3 months. I often thought I would never smile again but I was not depressed, I just had such intense sensations if dissociation that I was almost constantly shaking on my feet and hands from pure terror and fear of never leaving that state. This was about 5 years ago. I’ve learned SO much these past years and especially the last two years. I’m amazed that NON of the mental health care workers I’ve talked to have mentioned a dissociative disorder. I’ve always had an idea that it was indeed that I experienced. I’ve grown a whole LOT and I’ve gained so much insight which I probably wouldn’t have gained at all if it hadn’t been for my struggle. I do not feel like I’m totally alone with these symptoms anymore, thank you for that post 🙂

  3. Drew   February 23, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Matthew, you are not alone, take a deep breath. Everything will even itself out. The world will return to its natural vibrations in time. I am fighting it myself and even hearing other people say this makes me feel better.

  4. Matthew   January 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    It feels like I’m not even in my body or that someone else is controlling my every move while I just watch it happen. Every once in awhile I get the feeling that I can’t breath or I’m gonna stop breathing but in reality it’s perfectly fine. My hands and feet get all sweaty like cold flashea and sometimes I shake.

  5. StashCat   May 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Thank you for this post, the tips really helped me out. Just after 5 minutes of meditation, the second I opened my eyes back up, I instantly felt positive emotions 🙂

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