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Smoked marijuana. Started getting blurred vision, headache and feeling dizzy. Looking for relief

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Practicing since : 2003
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I have been having quite a few symptoms since I smoked marijuana for the first time. I woke up the next day with what I think was depersonalization/derealization because my vision was funny. And the more I worried about the vision, the more anxious I became. Weeks went by and my symptoms only got worse, as my vision bothered me, I had headaches, felt tired all the time, dizzy, and just didn't feel like myself - I didn't feel like my normal self and still don't. I had what I think were two panic attacks in the middle of the night and they were both triggered by my vision because it bothers me so much. I have gotten my eyes checked out and everything seems fine and have done a serious of blood tests which are also fine and also I have been to an ear doctor to see if it could do with my middle ear. I have been to a psychiatrist who has prescribed me medicine for anxiety and I have been taking that for about 10 days and 3 days ago introduced another medication to help but I have still not seen any significant change in my vision. It has gotten better, but I still am constantly seeing flashing lights, dark spots, and colorful specks that kind of look like stars. I was wondering if these eye symptoms are common to anxiety. And whether people who are suffering from anxiety and panic attacks pay more attention to what they are seeing - for example, I notice things/ pay closer attention to things that I didn't before... certain shadows, movement, specks, etc.
Posted Tue, 13 Nov 2012 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 10 hours later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

I understand that you seem to be having a difficult time with your recent symptoms. Now cannabis (marijuana) has indeed been associated with a variety of psychiatric symptoms, the commonest being anxiety-related disorders. Depersonalization, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. are all well known effects associated with cannabis use. It is also possible that you might have had a underlying dormant anxiety disorder which has got exacerbated by the marijuana.

Now, anxiety can manifest itself as psychological as well as physical symptoms, and the physical manifestations of anxiety can vary widely and can literally present with symptoms of any system in the body. Since, you have had a proper medical evaluation, including a eye check-up and an ENT check-up to rule out any medical pathology, it is quite likely that your physical symptoms such as headache, dizziness and vision problems could be related to the anxiety.

Like you had rightly mentioned, one of the main reasons for such physical symptoms is a heightened or abnormal perception of stimuli/ This erratic perception, when combined with the psychologically aroused state can result in abnormal symptoms (when there is no significant underlying pathology present). It has also been found that persons with anxiety / panic attacks often go into a state of autonomic (involuntary nervous system) dysregulation which can also compound the symptoms further.

Regarding your medication, it usually takes about 2-3 weeks for the medication to start taking effect and it may take about 4-6 weeks to see the full benefits of the medication. It is also common to have a slight worsening of anxiety symptoms during the first few days due to the medication, before you start seeing its benefits. So, don't worry about the fact that you haven't seen much improvement early on.

In addition to medication, psychological techniques and relaxation therapies like controlled breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, applied relaxation, bifeedback, etc. can also provide effective and long-lasting results for your anxiety problems.

So, please be patient an stay positive. Try some simple relaxation exercises and try to keep your mind focussed on something always. I'm sure that with appropriate therapy, you will be able to overcome your problems soon.

Wish you all the best.

- Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
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