It is common to hear that smoking cigarettes alleviates stress, but the truth is, many studies have shown that cigarettes may actually cause stress and anxiety. Nicotine, which is responsible for the addiction to smoking, can make some people feel relief, as their addiction is being addressed. However, those already experiencing stress and anxiety may find that smoking cigarettes can make their symptoms far worse.

Smoking and Stress Research

Research into smoking and the effects on stress, indicate that instead of helping us to relax, smoking may contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. Studies have shown that highly stressed people are more likely to smoke.  This may be due to the release of Dopamine, which makes the smoker feel happy, however once this effect wears off, the feelings of stress can be far worse. Self medicating with cigarettes has been shown to increase symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Emotional Effects of Smoking

It is widely known that smoking can have a negative effect on physical health, yet the emotional effects of smoking are quite serious too.  Cigarettes cause an increase in Dopamine in the brain, over time, the brains baseline level of Dopamine is lower which can lead to feelings of stress, depression and may even result in trouble getting to sleep at night. Smoking can also make existing emotional conditions worse.

Can Nicotine Cause Anxiety and Depression

It is unclear whether smoking causes depression but there are strong links to people with depression being smokers. It is known that people with depression may find it harder to quit smoking as their levels of Dopamine may be naturally lower.  As smoking cigarettes gives an increase in Dopamine in the brain, a depressed smoker will find their nicotine withdrawals are greater. Smoking cigarettes has been linked to increased feelings of anxiety as Nicotine is a stimulant.

Quitting Smoking and Anxiety Disorder

People with anxiety disorders can find it harder to quit smoking as nicotine can be a stress reliever. Removing this relief can cause anxiety to worsen for at least 3 days and can last for weeks.  It is important to get advice from your healthcare provider if you have an anxiety disorder and want to quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy can greatly aid in avoiding increased anxiety during the quitting process.

Being Prepared for Withdrawal Symptoms

Being prepared for withdrawal symptoms can greatly prepare you for your quitting journey. Talking to your Doctor can help you to find strategies to deal with the increased anxiety and possible depression.  Your Doctor may recommend that you use Nicotine Replacement Therapy to minimise your nicotine withdrawal symptoms or find other ways to help prepare you. Quitting can be tough, but it is well worth the withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Medication (NRT)

Quitting smoking without any assistance such as “cold turkey” can be the least effective way to quit. Nicotine is a very powerful drug with a strong addiction and relapsing is common for cold turkey quitters.  There are a number of different medications and NRT’s available to smokers trying to quit. E-Cigarettes or Vaping is recognised in many countries as one of the most effective ways to quit as it closely resembles the action of smoking. Nicotine patches and sprays also work for some as it can give nicotine to the body when needed.  Speaking to your Doctor about all of the options and the best one for you can greatly increase your chances of quitting for good. Author’s Bio  Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as eCig For Life, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.
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