Can Quitting Cigarette Smoking Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

If we rely on the reports of medical experts and research scientists we will certainly believe that there is a connection between tobacco use and the general category of anxiety disorders. On study issued under the names of three doctors (Alexandre M. Valenca, Isabella Nascimenton and Antonio E. Nardi) states that smoking was a habit in nearly half of panic disorder patients.

This study connects such panic-attack symptoms as dizziness, chills and irregular heart beat with regular cigarette smoking. It also makes a connection between regular consumption of caffeine (coffee, soft drinks etc.) and episodes of anxiety and inability to sleep. In contrast to the question posed in the title, medical research indicates that cigarette smoking might be one of the factors in developing panic disorder. Researchers list the effects of nicotine, tar and other chemicals in cigarette smoke as contributing to the theory.

Other studies show that patients who experienced symptoms of panic attacks while smoking have also suffered from similar or additional symptoms when they quit smoking. In some cases the feelings of anxiety, general nervousness and being out of control increased when patients quit smoking. Some patients suffered from additional panic-attack symptoms and from nicotine withdrawal at the same time.

The report from the three doctors mentioned earlier states that when individuals who already suffered from panic disorder suddenly stopped smoking the anxiety increased. Many of these patients experienced increased fear in anticipation of a panic attack. In many of these individuals, it was necessary to administer one of the recommended prescription medications in order to reduce the symptoms.

Ten years ago a report in MD Health News warned that smoking doesn’t “calm you down.” In fact, this report states that smokers are “three times more likely than non-smokers to have panic attacks and panic disorders.” One of the doctors commenting in the report stated that, in the last years of the 20th century, medical research began to make new connections between smoking and some types of mental illness.

Can Quitting Cigarette Smoking Cause Anxiety And Panic AttacIt’s interesting to note that more than one study offers some encouraging information. Smokers who quit before having a first panic attack reduce the risk significantly, even if family history or other health conditions indicate that they are prime candidates. Most doctors try to simplify the issue by suggesting that smokers should quit immediately, whether or not panic attacks or panic disorder are part of the picture.

People who are not medical experts, who have not studied the research results, may easily get the idea that smoking increases stress. Apparently the various chemicals in cigarette smoke contribute to some panic-attack symptoms. In addition, research shows that one of the ingredients in cigarette smoke – carbon monoxide – may directly induce panic symptoms. This is particularly true in people who are already prone to anxiety and panic episodes.

Yet those same people may learn that when people stop smoking the chance of panic/anxiety episodes also increases, for the simple reason that they have removed a life-long habit from their day. It would seem that for cigarette smokers this is a lose-lose situation.

Category: Mental Health

5 Comments on “Can Quitting Cigarette Smoking Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks?”

Notna wrote:

I am having massive Anxiety attacks and Panic attacks due to the cutting down the tobacco use, making it so much harder to quit smoking.

michael wrote:

My anxiety is really bad already but ever since I’ve quit smoking its made it worse like really bad stomach a mess always feel like I’m dying always sweating tired all the time weak and a lot more but the thing is my anxiety hasn’t gone away I felt like I’m living in a dream world not really here just feels weird I don’t do drugs or drink but I always feel like I’m in a constant high that never goes away and my heart is always racing and I just can’t take it I’ve been to the doctor the said I was fine so I probably am or they’re just idiots but someone help. Should I try Paxel or something?

nathan wrote:

I have quit smoking cigarettes. I quit on January 8th 2011. Here lately I have been experiencing a short of breath quite often. Like I try to breath with a deep breath and only feel like I’m only getting 50% of what I’m doing. Almost feel like I have to control my own breathing. It’s very discomforting and scary. Is this normal?

James wrote:

I used to have rare panic attacks, so bad I thought I was going to die. Just relaxing at home feeling fine and next minute I can’t breath properly and my face and arms go numb. It’s the scariest thing. I quit smoking five days ago and today I had a panic attack, just sitting at home on my computer, feeling fine and it just came over me like a wave and now I feel very afraid. I have no idea what triggers them. I need to lie down after it happens as it just takes all your energy and emotional strength away and leaves you feeling like the blood has been drained out of your head and limbs. And it can last for a long time. Some say 10 minutes to a hour but I’ve had it on and off this evening for about two hours.

kathleen scott wrote:

Have stopped smoking right away and ended up in hospital 3 days later with panic attacks. My heart blood and blood pressure are fine. I have stopped because I have narrowing of an artery in my neck. My doctor told me this was quite common in older people but these attacks are very frightening and told me to stop smoking. I also find after eating I get the attacks what do I do. My doctor has put me on Diazepam but I don’t really want to take them.

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