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Information on marijuana

Marijuana contains the hallucinogenic chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This product causes euphoria and people use this drug because of its physical and mental effects of increased mood levels and muscle relaxation.

Marijuana can cause increased anxiety and feelings of paranoia, though, in certain situations. People who are naturally anxious or who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders are more prone to experiencing this issue.

Symptoms of increased anxiety with marijuana use are similar to those experienced in a panic attack.

These symptoms can include:

  • An increased heart rate.
  • Tight chest and/or laboured breathing.
  • Disorientation.
  • A feeling of impending doom.
Marijuana can also cause hallucinations which resolve within a couple of hours. Suicidal thoughts aren't increased when using marijuana but the user can elicit psychotic symptoms which can make them aggressive and therefore endanger themselves or others. If this does occur then the person needs to be taken to an emergency room where they need to be stabilized and managed further.

Information on Zoloft

The generic name for Zoloft is sertraline and it is a medication which is used for mental health related conditions. It is part of the group called the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and it helps to elevate serotonin levels in the brain. 

The main indications for the use of this medication is for generalized anxiety disorders; such as panic disorders, OCD and social anxiety disorders and for major depression. It is usually a well tolerated medication which has yielded excellent results for reduction in anxiety and elevating mood levels in patients over the long term. 

There are certain specific side effects that are associated with this medication and they include:

  • Sexual dysfunction where climaxing becomes delayed.
  • Decreased sexual drive.
  • Insomnia.
  • Aggression.
  • Confusion.
  • Restlessness.
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Mood or behaviour changes.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Heartburn.

Careful examination of these side effects will make one note that some of them are similar to the effects of marijuana as experienced by users of the drug. It's therefore important then to be able to establish the cause of the symptoms which are experienced.

Conclusion

There is no known direct interaction between marijuana and Zoloft.

Instead, the effects of marijuana and the side effects Zoloft can mimic each other in certain situations.

The other important issue to take note of is that since marijuana can elevate anxiety levels in certain individuals, then patients who use Zoloft for anxiety related disorders will be more prone to experience increased anxiety and paranoia when using marijuana. 

The take home message then is that it isn't drug interactions that cause the increased anxiety but rather the drug itself triggers patients who are predisposed to anxiety disorders.

The best way forward then would be to try and avoid using drugs such as marijuana when you are diagnosed with a mental health condition as there in evidence to suggest that it can worsen the condition. Psychotic symptoms caused by marijuana can also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia

If you are struggling to stop using marijuana, then it is suggested to discuss this issue with your primary care doctor in order to help suggest appropriate rehabilitation measures for you.

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