Why Do I Feel High When I'm Not?


Have you ever experienced that odd sensation of feeling “high” or strangely euphoric, even when you haven’t ingested any mind-altering substances? It’s a perplexing phenomenon that has puzzled many. This sensation can manifest in various ways, from feeling lightheaded or dizzy to experiencing a heightened sense of well-being or detachment from reality. 

While it might seem like a cause for concern, there are actually several reasons why this can occur, and understanding them can provide reassurance. Interestingly, this sensation can affect people of all ages. 

However, it may be more commonly reported among younger individuals who may be more prone to experimenting with substances or experiencing stress and anxiety. Let’s explore the factors that contribute to this curious sensation and what you can do if you find yourself experiencing it unexpectedly.

What Do You Mean by Feeling High?

When we talk about feeling “high” without the use of drugs or alcohol, it’s essential to clarify what exactly we mean by this sensation. Feeling “high” typically refers to a state of altered consciousness or perception, often associated with the use of substances like marijuana, alcohol, or certain medications. 

However, in the context of this discussion, feeling “high” can encompass a range of sensations that mimic some aspects of drug-induced euphoria. This might include feelings of light-headedness, dizziness, a sense of detachment from reality, heightened sensory perception, or an overall sense of well-being. 

It’s important to note that these sensations can vary widely from person to person and may not always be indicative of a serious underlying health issue.

What Does Stress Feel Like?

Feeling stressed out means experiencing a range of physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms that can vary in intensity from mild to severe. Physically, stress can manifest as tension in the muscles, headaches, fatigue, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns. 

Emotionally, it may lead to feelings of irritability, anxiety, sadness, or a sense of being overwhelmed. Cognitively, stress can impair concentration, memory, and decision-making abilities. Recognizing these signs can help us take proactive steps to manage stress and prioritize self-care.

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Signs Stress is Affecting Your Heart

Feeling stressed out can have a significant impact on your heart health, and it’s essential to be aware of the signs that indicate stress may be affecting your cardiovascular system. Here are some key indicators to watch out for:

  • Elevated blood pressure: Chronic stress can lead to consistently high blood pressure levels, increasing the strain on your heart and blood vessels.
  • Irregular heartbeats: Stress hormones can disrupt the normal rhythm of your heartbeat, leading to palpitations or irregular heartbeats.
  • Increased risk of heart disease: Prolonged stress is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease, including conditions like coronary artery disease and heart attacks.

These signs serve as crucial reminders to prioritize stress management and seek support when needed to protect your heart health.

Does Stress Make You Tired?

Feeling exhausted after a stressful day is a common experience for many. Stress can indeed make you tired, both mentally and physically. When you’re stressed out, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare you for a “fight or flight” response. 

While these hormones can temporarily boost energy levels, prolonged stress can lead to fatigue as your body struggles to maintain this heightened state of alertness. Additionally, stress often disrupts sleep patterns, making it difficult to get restorative rest and leaving you feeling even more tired during the day. 

If you find yourself constantly feeling drained, it’s essential to address the underlying stressors and implement healthy coping mechanisms to replenish your energy levels.

Why Does My Body Feel High When I'm Not?

Feeling “high” without any substance use can be a perplexing experience, but there are various reasons why your body might exhibit these sensations. 

Neurotransmitter fluctuations: Changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain can alter mood and perception, leading to sensations akin to being high.

Hyperventilation: Rapid breathing, often induced by stress or anxiety, can result in decreased carbon dioxide levels in the blood, leading to feelings of lightheadedness or euphoria.

Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal imbalances, such as those experienced during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, can impact mood and cognition, potentially causing sensations of being high.

Neurotransmitter fluctuations

  • Dopamine and serotonin: Changes in the levels of these neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and pleasure, can influence your perception of reality.
  • Endorphins: Natural painkillers produced by the body can induce feelings of euphoria, especially during intense physical activity or moments of extreme stress.


  • Decreased carbon dioxide levels: Rapid breathing leads to excessive elimination of carbon dioxide, which can alter the acid-base balance in the blood, resulting in sensations of light-headedness or euphoria.
  • Respiratory alkalosis: Hyperventilation can cause respiratory alkalosis, a condition characterized by reduced carbon dioxide levels and increased blood pH, leading to various symptoms including dizziness and tingling sensations.

Hormonal fluctuations

  • Puberty: Adolescents undergoing hormonal changes may experience mood swings, heightened emotions, and altered perceptions of reality.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal shifts during pregnancy can lead to mood swings, increased anxiety, and altered sensory experiences.
  • Menopause: Fluctuating hormone levels during menopause can cause mood disturbances, hot flashes, and changes in cognitive function, potentially contributing to sensations reminiscent of being high.
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Why Do I Feel Stressed for No Reason?

Experiencing stress without an apparent cause can be baffling and frustrating. However, there are several factors that may contribute to this sensation. One possible explanation is that your body’s stress response system, designed to protect you in threatening situations, may become dysregulated, leading to a heightened sensitivity to stressors or an exaggerated response to minor triggers. 

Additionally, underlying anxiety disorders or unresolved emotional issues can amplify feelings of stress, even in seemingly benign situations. Lifestyle factors such as poor sleep habits, excessive caffeine intake, or a lack of relaxation techniques can also contribute to a constant state of stress. 

Understanding these potential triggers and implementing strategies to manage stress can help alleviate this perplexing sensation and improve overall well-being.

Does Getting High Stop Depression?

Exploring the relationship between getting high and alleviating depression is essential for understanding potential coping mechanisms. While substances like drugs or alcohol may provide temporary relief from depressive symptoms, they do not address the underlying causes of depression and can ultimately exacerbate the condition. 

Temporary relief: Some individuals may experience a temporary lift in mood or a sense of escape from depressive thoughts and feelings when using substances.

Risk of dependence: Relying on substances to cope with depression can lead to dependence and addiction, worsening both physical and mental health in the long run.

Masking underlying issues: Getting high may provide a temporary distraction from depressive symptoms, but it does not address the root causes of depression, such as genetic predisposition, trauma, or imbalances in brain chemistry.

Increased risk of co-occurring disorders: Substance use disorders often co-occur with depression, leading to a complex and challenging cycle of addiction and mental health struggles.

The Bottom Line

You might feel high when you’re not involved, considering various factors, from neurotransmitter fluctuations to hormonal changes and stress-induced hyperventilation. While these sensations can be perplexing, they often have logical explanations rooted in the intricate workings of the body and mind. By recognizing the potential triggers and implementing healthy coping strategies, you can navigate these experiences with greater clarity and resilience. 

Remember, seeking support from healthcare professionals and prioritizing self-care are essential steps towards maintaining balance and well-being, even when faced with puzzling sensations like feeling high when you’re not.

Dr. Lubna Siddiki MD
About Author

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Dr. Lubna Siddiki MD
Dr. Lubna Siddiki is a board-certified Adult Psychiatrist. She specializes in treating adults struggling with various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more. Dr. Siddiki believes in a holistic approach to mental health treatment and works closely with her patients to develop personalized treatment plans that focus on their overall well-being. She is dedicated to helping individuals improve their behavioral health and lead fulfilling lives.