Does smoking make you more anxious


It’s no surprise that smoking has many negative effects on our health, but it can also increase our levels of anxiety. Studies show that smoking can make us more susceptible to symptoms of anxiety and it can make existing anxiety worse.

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the link between smoking and anxiety, and exploring how quitting can help alleviate symptoms.

Definition of smoking

Smoking is the inhalation and exhalation of the smoke of burning tobacco in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. The onset of anxiety from smoking is often attributed to Nicotine addiction and withdrawal.

Nicotine, in addition to being a stimulant drug, can have effects that increase anxiety among users.

Many studies have shown a direct correlation between heavy smoking, nicotine addiction and increased levels of anxiety. Long-term exposure to nicotine can cause the sympathetic nervous system to stay in an activated state known as tonic activation. This constant stress response can lead to increased feelings of worry, fear and tension even when not using tobacco products.

Some research suggests that nicotine increases corticotropin releasing hormone concentrations which acts on receptors in the hypothalamus to produce symptoms of anxiety as part of its stimulating effect on the body’s stress response system. Other studies have also linked smoking with heightened levels of glutamate release from neurons which may increase feelings of excitability or over activity in brain functions associated with worrying or feeling anxious.

Definition of anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotional response to stress and can be seen as a protective reaction to an unpleasant emotion or experience. It is characterized by an uneasy physical feeling, such as sweating, trembling, feelings of shortness of breath, chest pain, and increased heart rate. Anxiety often causes people to feel overwhelmed and it can cause difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Additionally, it can lead to feelings of guilt or fear that something bad may happen if the situation is not addressed.

There are many types of anxiety disorders including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Agoraphobia

How Smoking Affects Anxiety

Smoking is often thought to be a way to calm nerves and reduce stress. However, evidence from recent studies have found that smoking is actually linked to increased levels of anxiety. This is because smoking releases adrenaline into the body, which can lead to feelings of nervousness and fear.

In this section, we will discuss how smoking can affect anxiety levels and what steps you can take to reduce those feelings.

Nicotine and anxiety

Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, is known to cause symptoms of anxiety. It acts directly on the brain’s pleasure/reward system, creating a sense of euphoria when initially taken but providing shorter and shorter periods of satisfaction until feelings of stress and agitation are experienced instead. Studies have found that nicotine increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can make smokers more prone to feelings of anxiety. Additionally, nicotine is thought to interfere with serotonin pathways in the brain, impacting mood regulation. This can lead to feelings of depression and tension.

Furthermore, nicotine has been shown to affect one’s ability to handle stressors more effectively due to a change in how the nervous system reacts; it heightens overall arousal, causing an overload on the body’s resources resulting in fatigue and less withstanding capability for unexpected challenges. Additionally, smoking changes the metabolism of drugs used to treat anxiety such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium & Klonopin). Ultimately though smoking does not “causes” anxiety or panic attacks—it may heighten or trigger them in individuals already predisposed by other underlying factors/conditions.

To sum up – The physical effects that nicotine has on the body can intensify existing conditions like panic disorder or lead to tension and trigger nerves which could result in episodes of higher states of anxiousness than non-smokers experience when exposed to similar external factors or stimuli.

Other chemicals in cigarettes

Cigarettes contain a variety of compounds, many of which are thought to have an effect on anxiety. In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain several other chemicals including:

  • Tar: Tar is a sticky, brown substance released when cigarettes are burned. It coats the lungs and can cause breathing problems and other health issues. Tar has been linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Carbon monoxide: Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas produced from burning tobacco that affects how cells use oxygen in the body and makes it difficult for the body to repair damage from oxidative stress. This can lead to increased stress levels and anxiety.
  • Amines: Ammouniated derivatives of nicotine, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as ampicin, may contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that forms when cigarettes are burned, producing toxic chemicals that can damage cells in the lungs and increase oxidative stress in the body, leading to higher levels of anxiety.

Smoking not only increases anxiety directly through nicotine but also through additional chemicals found in cigarettes. Many people attempt to quit smoking due to its various negative effects on mental health as well as physical health – yet another reason why smoking should be avoided wherever possible!

Withdrawal symptoms

Smoking can lead to increased levels of anxiety due to the short- and long-term effects of smoking on the body. Smoking increases the activity in certain parts of the brain which can in turn increase the levels of anxiety. Upon quitting smoking, some individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety that may last for several weeks or even months.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly depending on a person’s individual experience with nicotine dependence and length of time they have been smoking. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms alone or with other physical or psychological complications can further worsen a person’s current state of mental health.

It is important to note that while many individuals may experience increased levels of anxiety that diminish over time, there are some cases in which an individual’s symptoms will continue after quitting smoking and require additional psychological intervention from a licensed medical professional such as a counselor or psychiatrist.

The Effects of Smoking on Mental Health

It is well known that smoking has severe physical health effects, but what about its effects on mental health? Studies have shown that smoking can increase anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It’s important to understand the risks associated with smoking, and how the effects can negatively impact your mental wellbeing.

This article will cover the effects of smoking on mental health, from the physical effects to the psychological:

  • Physical effects of smoking on mental health.
  • Psychological effects of smoking on mental health.

Stress and depression

The effects of smoking on mental health can be profound. Smoking has an impact on both the brain and behavior and can increase the risk of developing depression, anxiety, and stress. Studies have found that cigarette smoke affects neurotransmitter systems such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, which regulate moods and emotions.

Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to report feeling anxious or depressed. This is because of nicotine’s ability to affect neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate moods or influence arousal levels in certain regions of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Nicotine may also be a contributing factor for other mental health disorders such as OCD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia by altering hormone levels or influencing genetics.

In addition to this direct action on the brain from nicotine, smoking may increase psychological distress indirectly by causing physical problems such as headaches or poor circulation which can affect mood negatively. Additionally, those who have pre-existing mental health issues are more likely to use cigarettes to manage their stress which can lead to further problems down the line.

By quitting smoking, individuals can reduce their risk for developing a mental health problem associated with smoking or improve symptoms if they already have one. Practicing good self-care habits such as exercise and eating nutritious foods are important tools for reducing stress levels while improving overall wellbeing.

Social anxiety

Social anxiety, often referred to as social phobia, is an intense fear of being judged or scrutinized by others in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder can often feel embarrassed and excessively self-conscious, for instance when speaking in public or meeting strangers. It is estimated that more than 15 million Americans experience social anxiety disorder in a given year.

Research has suggested that smoking may be linked to higher levels of social anxiety among people with the condition, due to physiological and psychological effects. The chemicals in cigarettes are known to narrow the blood vessels and affect brain activity which can influence mood. In addition, nicotine affects dopamine receptors that contribute to feelings of pleasure and reward associated with smoking. Studies have found lower levels of dopamine among individuals who smoke than those who do not which can reduce positive emotions and lead to irritability, restlessness and depression – all risk factors for heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

A range of studies have identified an association between smoking habits and high anxiety – including increased jitteriness, nervousness and irritability when going through nicotine withdrawal – but results remain inconclusive as other factors such as genetic predisposition may also be involved. Ultimately it is clear that further research is needed before any firm conclusions can be made about the long-term effects of smoking on mental health conditions like social anxiety disorder.

Panic attacks

Studies have shown that smoking can have a negative effect on mental health for those who already suffer from anxiety disorders. Those with panic disorder may be especially sensitive to nicotine, due to its physical effects such as increased heart rate and respiration. Panic attacks are often triggered by changes in brain chemistry, and smoking can lead to alterations in neurotransmitter levels or imbalances of specific hormones.

Smokers often experience panic attacks more frequently than non-smokers as nicotine has been linked to anxiety due to its stimulating effects. This is because smoking releases higher levels of adrenaline, which triggers cellular processes similar to those experienced during a panic attack. In addition, long-term psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal can cause depression and irritability, both of which are risk factors for developing extreme panic disorder symptoms.

For those who struggle with anxiety or panic disorder, the best way to reduce the risk of these health threats is by quitting smoking or reducing the frequency at which cigarettes are smoked. While quitting can be difficult, there are many resources available that provide advice on how best to quit and beat nicotine dependence. Doing so will allow smokers to live happier healthier lives free from worry about the physical and mental risks associated with tobacco use.

Treatment Options

Quitting smoking can be a difficult journey, but there are some strategies and treatment options to help you quit for good. Counseling, self-help books, and medication can all be used to help you stop smoking. Additionally, lifestyle changes, including eating healthy and exercising, can help ease the transition to a smoke-free life.

Let’s dive into some of the treatment options available to help you quit smoking:

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based form of talk therapy that has been found to be effective in treating a variety of mental health and substance abuse disorders. This form of psychotherapy seeks to help individuals recognize how deeply ingrained thoughts, feelings, and behaviors impact their lives and address the issues that are causing distress.

CBT employs a range of techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, problem solving, mindfulness, and relaxation training to help patients identify the underlying issues causing their problems and develop strategies for addressing them. By working with a qualified therapist through CBT sessions, patients can learn to think more positively about themselves and their surroundings while gradually changing behavior patterns.


Medication is one form of treatment used to help people manage their anxiety symptoms. Common types of medication prescribed by doctors include antidepressants, anxiolytics, beta-blockers and tranquilizers.

Antidepressants are primarily used to treat depression, but they successfully treat anxiety as well. The two main types are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs prevent the neurotransmitter serotonin from being absorbed back into the brain too quickly, thus increasing its level in the gap between neurons (synapses). SNRIs hold back both serotonin and norepinephrine from being taken up into neurons. This prolonged stimulation of receptors by these two important neurotransmitters increases their activity in the brain. Examples of SSRI medications include Prozac, Lexapro and Celexa; examples of SNRI medications include Cymbalta and Effexor XR.

Anxiolytics suppress stress response or decrease anxious behavior without affecting alertness or causing drowsiness like tranquilizers do. Busiprone is an example of this type of medication typically used in Europe while benzodiazepines are usually prescribed through a doctor’s office in North America. Examples of anxiolytics include Ativan, Xanax, Valium and Klonopin.

Beta-blockers reduce many physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorder such as rapid heart beat and trembling hands by blocking the action of hormones that cause tightness in your muscles during stressful situations. Common drugs used as beta-blockers are Inderal LA, Tenormin and Sotalex CR.

Tranquilizers produce sedative effects that calm down extreme responses to fear or panic attacks and can be taken at bedtime when necessary for immediate relief from insomnia caused by driving fear away sleeping disorders related to anxiety issues such as night terrors or nightmares associated with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Examples may include Dalmane capsules or tablets or Klonopin tablets for treating Insomnia related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Hypnotherapy is a form of psychotherapy used to create subconscious change in a person’s thought patterns and behaviors. It involves using guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness that is sometimes referred to as an altered state of consciousness or trance.

During this process, the patient is able to access deeper levels of thought that are often difficult or impossible to reach with traditional psychotherapeutic techniques.

Hypnotherapy can provide various benefits for people who suffer from anxiety related issues such as smoking. Studies have shown that the use of hypnotherapy can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in those who are trying to quit smoking. This therapy also helps individuals increase their sense of control over their smoking habit and tendency to indulge in higher levels of anxiety while trying to quit.

Through the use of suggestions offered during hypnosis sessions, people may be provided with more positive behaviors around quitting smoking, resulting in greater success when attempting to cease use of tobacco products for good. Additionally, it has been seen that those who undergo hypnotherapy tend to gain greater self-awareness regarding their negative perceptions about quitting smoking due to underlying fears such as feeling anxious or out of control.


To conclude, research has shown that there is a clear link between smoking and increasing levels of anxiousness. The effects of smoking can last long after the physical act has ceased, with symptoms persisting weeks, months or even years after someone has quit.

There are multiple factors that contribute to these feelings anxiety and stress – nicotine, the physical withdrawal process and certain lifestyle choices associated with smoking. Through prevention, lifestyle changes and seeking professional help, those wishing to reduce the feelings of anxiety that are often associated with smoking can take steps to increase their overall wellbeing.