Can Weed Cause Depersonalization?
Yes, weed can trigger Depersonalization / Derealization Disorder. It usually happens as a result of a bad experience on weed, which can be very frightening and even traumatic.
The symptoms can include feeling like you 'still feel high' or 'can't come down', long after the effects should have worn off.
As the legalization of weed continues and stronger strains become available, Depersonalization / Derealization (DPDR) from weed is becoming extremely common. DPDR can also be triggered by other drugs like magic mushrooms, MDMA and LSD, although weed-induced Depersonalization / Derealization is by far the most common.
It's most common for teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 12 and 28. It is much more likely to happen if while on the drug you experience:
- A bad mental and physical reaction
- Frightening thoughts like hallucinations and the fear of 'going crazy'
- Intense paranoia
- A panic attack.
If you've had a particularly bad experience like this while on weed, persistent feelings of Depersonalization / Derealization can be the result.
Cut Off From Reality
Feelings of DP/DR can be very frightening, but it's important to remember that they are a natural and normal part of your body and brain's fight or flight response.
Your brain thinks it's in danger, and turns on feelings of Depersonalization / Derealization (among many other responses) to cope with it.
Depersonalization / Derealization are feeling of being removed from your own body and mind, or that you're cut off from your reality and surroundings. Your brain uses it as a defense mechanism to get you through traumatic experiences. It's often referred to as the 'airbag of the mind'.
It's an extremely common reaction to perceived trauma and up to 75% of people will experience it at some point in their lives. It could be due to abuse, stress, a car accident, a house fire, getting mugged, whatever.
And for most people it lasts only a few minutes, until they're out of danger.
Then it naturally fades away, which is what it's supposed to do. It's perfectly natural!
'Why Do I Still Feel High The Next Day?'
A bad experience on weed (or any other drug) can be extremely intense, lengthy and feel very traumatic. So your brain uses Depersonalization / Derealization as a defense mechanism to cope with that fear. This can make you feel lightheaded, dreamy, cut off from reality.
Initially, this is often described in simple terms like 'my brain feels weird after smoking weed'. But this can become much more frightening, especially if it lasts even after the drug should have worn off.
It's as if you still feel high and can't come down.
This can be very difficult to articulate -- People can often describe it like a weed hangover that's not going away. Or that they're still feeling weird, days after an edible.
The weed should be out of your system, right? But you're still feeling high all the time, even when you're not on any drugs.
You don't quite feel 'real', you're worried that you're 'going crazy'. This causes intense anxiety, which makes the Depersonalization / Derealization worse.
The DPDR isn't allowed to fade away after the trauma itself is over, which is what it's supposed to do. The anxiety and DPDR become a feedback loop which can go on for days, weeks and longer.
This can result in feeling like you are cut off from reality 24/7, and constantly asking yourself scary questions like, "Why do I always feel high when I'm not smoking weed?" or "What does it mean when you feel high but you're not high?"
The feelings of Depersonalization / Derealization can be very frightening, especially when they are persisting long after you have come down from the weed.
But it's very important to remember that these feelings are just your brain’s reaction to the perceived trauma of the bad drug experience.
You never hear of people who have a good drug experience and end up with Depersonalization / Derealization, right? It’s always folks who have had a horrible time and then can’t seem to pull themselves back into reality once the drug has worn off.
Depersonalization from weed or any other drug can be incredibly frightening, because people are scared that they have somehow ‘broken’ or ‘changed’ their brain with the drug. They worry that they are now 'stuck' feeling high all the time and may never come down.
They worry (incorrectly) that these feelings are never going to stop.
Add into this mix the feelings of guilt and regret that can often be present. "If only I hadn't smoked that joint / eaten that edible", etc etc.
DPDR resulting from trauma / violence / panic attacks are scary, but the feelings of guilt and regret from drug-induced Depersonalization / Derealization can be almost overwhelming.
Depersonalization Disorder Is Not Permanent
But this is very important: You have NOT done any permanent damage to your brain.
There is nothing in the weed that caused you to become 'permanently high' or 'go insane' or anything remotely like that.
"But why do I still feel high when I don't do drugs?"
Because you just had a bad drug experience, your brain perceived it as trauma, and so it turned on the feelings of Depersonalization / Derealization to protect you.
You might temporarily feel unreal, like you're living in a dream, like you're high all the time, and I understand that it can feel very frightening -- but remember that it's just your brain's way of helping you to cope with a really scary experience.
I know it feels weird but these are the exact same feelings that anyone who goes through a traumatic event will experience.
And the good news is that Depersonalization Disorder is not permanent.
It's a defence mechanism of the brain that's meant to last only a few minutes. It's perfectly natural. As with all anxiety-based conditions, people get this and recover from it all the time.