mood swings after 4 months

firstly thanks to those who replied to my post last month,i wasnt doing too well at the time and didnt thank those who took the time to reply.

i quit cold turkey 4 months ago tomorrow and after the expected cravings in the first month i was doing fine,then the mood swings started,these are huge sweeping overwhelming mood swings that are both scary and often without warning.

i have suffered from depression and anxiety in the past but these feelings had been pretty much under control for quite a few years.

the last month has been a little better but this seems to be because im taking extra precautions (avoiding alcohol/thinking twice before ranting) rather than i am calmer.

what are others exprerince of this,how did you cope with it and how long did it last for you?

Dean

looking forward to being able to give advice rather than needing it

31 Replies

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  • hey dean,

    im feeling your pain. im nearly 5 months quit and my struggle with getting my drinking under control has become a major depressing pain in the ass. im feeling pretty low right now too. :(

    there apears to be a lot to face up to when you quit smoking. some phases are easy and others really kick your ass ive found.

    i cant really offer any good advice other than exersise, diet, sleep. thats the key to a happy healthy life. Wether we can do it is another issue.

    all the best mate. hang in there :)

  • i will have done 4 clear months on the 2nd Jan, and seem to be suffering again. thought i had got past the craving/temper thing but then it sneaked up on me in the last couple of days. i am dealing with it by telling myself this is the longest i have ever not smoked for and i refuse to go through the last 4 months again.

    It does seem that this quitting business is a rollercoaster ride and we just have to hold on to the ups when we are going through the downs, and at some point it will all level off.

    Reading and posting I think help too, and knowing that there are loads of people around to help and support.

    Keep strong, and we will get there.

  • Please dont be too down. i know what its like i can remember crying like a baby at times. But the longer you quit the less it seams to get and now I cant honestly remember the last time I felt really down. So it do get better. Dont know if it helpped but i did take st johns wort this quit just one a day. Keep strong all it do get better Honest.xxxxxx

  • Oh dear Bev, I'm on nearly 3 months and was wondering when things were going to get better!

    I've decided that when someone says it can take up to a year then that's what it can take...we just have to hold tight and go with the flow :confused:

  • hi all it is such a releif to see its not me who seemed to go mental when I quite before like you it was around month 3.. forwarded for armed

    lets keep up the fight together

    sue xx

  • Well i won't paint no lie, i hit a huge depression which seemed to start not long after i was 3 months quit.. my 100 day quit milestone left me feeling indifferent, i had lost my early enthusiasm, and certainly found that the thoughtless actions of others had a more than negative effect too.

    The depression however you must acknowledge as a symptom and take steps to deal with it on its own. I was recommended to try 'St. Johns Wort' tablets which i did, and they worked for me.. but by far the biggest things i did to get out of the depression was giving myself more credit for the things i was doing right rather than dwelling on the things that are going a bit wrong.

    You can't make everything OK over night, but while you are taking steps to make things BETTER, you are doing good and you should always be proud of that. ALWAYS.

    Things DO get better, you just feel a bit in a rut for a bit, but things do improve.

  • Glad it is not just me that is getting these feelings of stress anxiety and depression? Depression? Never suffered anything like that before!

    Wqake up with knots in my tummy at least 2 or 3 times a week. Never suffered that before either.

    I have taken to having a few drinks of an evening which I will keep a close eye on.

    Could be that I hate work at the moment. But I have hated work before and just smoked more and it went away. Can't do that anymore.

    Still, not giving up giving up.

  • I said to my wife, 'Look, I'm getting p ***ed off all the time about little things ..."

    She said, "Don't worry, it's all in your head - you were like that before."

    I think with the non-smoking I was over sensitizing, also, perhaps looking for a way out, and excuse, with which to have a cigarette?

    My anger is internalized anyway - unless I overtly go on a rampage no one is noticing a psychological change in me .. only a physical one in which I look healthier, but a little fattier though - which makes me angry because it's so painful to squash up to put my shoes on.

  • thanks all,i wont be smokign again,thats for sure,i dont really have that option to be honest,it was making me feel so tired and ill all the time so im kind of stuck anyway,i guess thats a good thing in a way.

    i have been on anti depressants and was slowly coming off those but im 90% sure quitting smoking has had the major effect on me.

    its such a horrible feeling as it has changed me for the worse,i was fairly patient (though i ranted wasnt always a ray of sunshine when i did smoke) but now i really dont like myself,i feel sorry for my girlfriend but at least she can escape me,im stuck with it.

    im drinkign less than i ever have ( i think once in 2 months) and i always have eaten healthy,seems to make little difference.

    so noone has any idea when this will level out? i know were all different but its good to know a rough average if it is purely your brain adjusting after (what for me is) 20 years,i hope you are right bev.

    im not really craving at least,im just angry,so very angry:mad:

  • its interesting but you mention you were tired all the time, well is it possible do you think that the depression you speak of actually started while you were smoking? tireness is often experienced at the same time as the depression you see, so perhaps this may ring true ?

  • thanks all,i wont be smokign again,thats for sure,i dont really have that option to be honest,it was making me feel so tired and ill all the time so im kind of stuck anyway,i guess thats a good thing in a way.

    i have been on anti depressants and was slowly coming off those but im 90% sure quitting smoking has had the major effect on me.

    its such a horrible feeling as it has changed me for the worse,i was fairly patient (though i ranted wasnt always a ray of sunshine when i did smoke) but now i really dont like myself,i feel sorry for my girlfriend but at least she can escape me,im stuck with it.

    im drinkign less than i ever have ( i think once in 2 months) and i always have eaten healthy,seems to make little difference.

    so noone has any idea when this will level out? i know were all different but its good to know a rough average if it is purely your brain adjusting after (what for me is) 20 years,i hope you are right bev.

    im not really craving at least,im just angry,so very angry:mad:

    Hi Dean

    Had a similar experience to you when stopping smoking but think I've always been prone to highs and lows, stopping smoking has just removed the veil so I can see the real me without the addiction overlaying my emotions.

    Things do level out and life does change for the better.

    I understand the feelings of anger too, you need to give yourself credit where credit is due though, you've stopped smoking for 4 months. Might be an idea to get some sport/exercise in (if you aren't already) this releases natural highs, provides a sense of achievement and diversion from all the rubbish that your swimming through at the moment.

    Like me it sounds as though the biggest battle is with yourself, smoking again isn't the issue it's feeling down/angry/depressed. You aren't alone - lots of people on here have had the same problems. Perhaps a post in the side effects of stopping smoking might bring some other tales from people forward too.

    Lastly I made a post about my reasons which includes a later post on the grieving process - 5 stages you might find this useful.

    M

  • I feel the same, and I don't know what to do.

  • Andy/Dean

    Have picked up the relevant section here. However this might be easier to read Emotional Recovery

    Kübler-Ross grief cycle - The Kübler-Ross model identifies five discrete stages in

    the grief cycle when coming to terms with any significant emotional loss.346

    Albeit chemical, dependency upon nicotine may have been the most intense and

    dependable relationship in our entire life. Unless wet and it wouldn’t light, never

    once did it let us down. Unlike when hunting for a lost pet or when our parents

    were angry with us, nicotine’s “aaah” was always there.

    If we smoked nicotine ten times per day and averaged 8 puffs per cigarette, that’s

    80 times a day that we puckered our lips up to some nasty smelling butt spewing

    forth scores of toxins and thousands of chemicals. What human on earth did we

    kiss 80 times each day? Who did we depend upon 80 times a day? How many

    times each day did we write or say our name? Imagine being closer to our

    addiction than our own name.

    In 1982 Joel Spitzer applied the Kübler-Ross grief cycle model to the emotional

    loss encountered when quitting smoking.347 The five stages of emotional recovery

    include:

    (1) Denial: “I’m not really going to quit. I’ll just pretend and see how far I get.”

    (2) Anger: “Have I really had my last nicotine fix? “This just is not fair!”

    (3) Bargaining: “Maybe I can do it just once more.” “I’ve earned a little reward.”

    (4) Depression: “This is never going to end.” What’s the use?” “Why bother?”

    (5) Acceptance “Hey, I’m feeling pretty good!” “I can do this!” “This is good.”

    Anger

    Anger is a normal and expected emotional recovery phase. It is also a means to

    experience the flow of missing adrenaline, once part of our nicotine high. Sadly,

    underlying anger anxieties can be used to intentionally fuel rage. I take no pride

    in recalling that I could intentionally became so nasty, and create so much turmoil

    among those I loved, that I could convince them that I needed my cigarettes back.

    But there are fine distinctions between anger felt during the emotional recovery

    stage and using anger as an adrenaline crutch or sick relapse ploy. The anger

    phase of recovery is a period of healing where we begin to awaken to the

    realization that it may be within our ability to pull this off and succeed. That just

    maybe, our last puff, dip or chew, ever, is already behind us.

    Durable nicotine use memories flowing from captive dopamine pathways elevated

    that next fix to one of life’s top priorities. But emotional recovery has now

    transported us from fear of quitting to fear of success. Is it any wonder that anger

    would be the mind’s reaction? It is now being struck with the very real prospect

    that a high priority relationship has come to an end. Is it at all surprising that

    anger can foster resentment at leaving, and envy of those still using?

    Knowing the root cause, now all the quitter needs is some excuse, any excuse, to

    let it all out, to vent, to turn a molehill into a mountain. Conflicting motivations,

    freedom or feed-em, risk of succeeding, fear of the unknown; just one spark, any

    spark, and an overwhelmed and exaggerating mind stands primed to lash out.

    While this high-energy phase of the emotional stage of goodbye is a normal step in

    recovery, the educated quitter both recognizes its arrival and understands anger’s

    roots. Recognition is critical as it provides a protective seed of reason inside a

    mind looking for a spark, a loaded mind in which intense exaggeration is poised to

    abandon rational thought.

    If allowed, that spark will activate the body’s fight or flight response, releasing a

    cascade of more than one hundred chemicals and hormones.

    But knowledge’s seed of reason knows that breaking nicotine’s grip upon our mind

    and life is not a logical reason to fight, lash out, become enraged or flee. It knows

    that an exaggerating mind is not an honest mind. It is a mind sick with tunnel

    vision, which ignores all positives while focusing only on negative. It knows that

    the spark is not the issue. The issue is emotional recovery.

    So how does a mind trained in recognizing and understanding recovery anger

    prevent it from harming both us, and the world around us? The next Chapter on

    subconscious recovery provides a number of techniques for navigating a crave

    episode which may not peak for three minutes. In that anxiety underlies both

    ã 2009 FFNicotine.com & WhyQuit.com 177

    crave episodes and anger episodes they’ll serve you well. Let me leave you with

    one exercise in creating the patience needed to move beyond anger.

    Mounting inner recovery frustrations have just encountered a spark. Have

    patience, just one micro-second at a time. Recognize the anger building within.

    Understand what’s happening and why. Realize that unless being physically

    assaulted that only bad can come from unleashing our body’s fighting chemicals.

    Anger is almost never a solution. It reflects primitive instincts that are out of

    control. It brings strong potential to harm both us and innocent victims, leaving

    emotional wounds that may never heal.

    If possible, sit down. Slowly close your eyes while taking a deep breath. Focus

    all concentration on your favorite color or object, or upon the sensations associated

    with inhaling and exhaling that next breath. Feel the cool air entering and its

    warmth while slowly exhaling. Baby steps, just one second at a time. Take

    another slow deep breath while maintaining total inner focus. Feel the sense of

    calm and inner peace as it begins to spread. Slowly open your eyes as you begin to

    sense that your body’s fighting chemicals no longer flow. Hopefully it is now safe

    to respond to the spark with logic, reason and calm.349

    How long will the anger phase last? As long as allowed. Can in-depth

    understanding of the emotional journey allow us to skip it altogether? Possibly

    but we have no studies. Clearly knowledge can provide the insights needed to

    recognize transitions and hopefully react in healthy, non-destructive ways. It’s

    what anger management is all about. Hopefully understanding and acceptance

    will help accelerate emotional recovery. But if not, don’t be disturbed as each step

    reflects deep and profound emotional healing.

    Fears, cycling emotions, an addict’s relapse ploy or feeling a sense of loss,

    recovery offers plenty of opportunities to encounter anger. We also need to

    remember that normal everyday life can produce anger too, even in never-users.

    At times, anger’s causes may overlap and get tangled. But even then, we have it

    within us to fully control anger impulses, without harm to innocent bystanders or

    us.

    Once things calm, where does the mind turn next? What is anger’s solution? Why

    not try to cut a deal to keep our cake while having eaten it too? But this isn’t

    about cake. It’s about a highly addictive chemical with tremendous impact upon

    our physical, subconscious, conscious and emotional well-being.

    349 While debate abounds about meditation’s ability to heal the body, and study quality to date has been horrible,

    there is limited evidence of some forms of meditation diminishing blood pressure, see U.S. Agency for Healthcare

    Research and Quality, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment Number 155, Meditation Practices for Health: State

    of the Research, AHRQ Publication No. 07-E010, June 2007.

    178 Freedom from Nicotine – The Journey Home

  • thanks mah,interesting post,certainly agree and believe that smokign was a veil thats been removed and now that crutch has been taken away im having to deal with what was always there and clearly needed dealign with.

    jase,i dont think it was depression that was making me so tired before,i know that feeling and also i felt dreadful and exhausted after immediately after the ciggy,i have so much mor eenergy recently,unfortunately its not a good energy most of the time,its manic and anxious.

    and andy,just to give you some hope,you are at 2 months,mine got a little better after 3,alot say upto 3 months is the worst time,hang in there,has to be worth it now youve come this far

  • The feelings I am getting at the moment are really weird. I feel like I have done something really bad and am waiting for judgement or something!

    Never thought I would experience these kind of feelings, I supose in the past when I felt anxious I would have another cigarette.

    Certainly hope these feelings don't last long!

  • Dont know if it helps but felt all these feelings myself but can honestly say they have all gone now and I feel fine. Stick with it its a big life change for the better.xxxxx

  • how long before your moods and emotions started evening out linda?

    dont worry if it takes longer for me i wont sue you hehehe

  • thanks mah,interesting post,certainly agree and believe that smokign was a veil thats been removed and now that crutch has been taken away im having to deal with what was always there and clearly needed dealign with.

    jase,i dont think it was depression that was making me so tired before,i know that feeling and also i felt dreadful and exhausted after immediately after the ciggy,i have so much mor eenergy recently,unfortunately its not a good energy most of the time,its manic and anxious.

    and andy,just to give you some hope,you are at 2 months,mine got a little better after 3,alot say upto 3 months is the worst time,hang in there,has to be worth it now youve come this far

    Dean

    Definitely think the anxiety turns into anger and fear. Your feelings of anxiousness are a defense mechanism to stop you doing something, in this instance it's to stop you *giving up* and start you smoking again.

    Read some more stuff on why quit, try some deep breathing when you feel anxious and try to give yourself time to find solutions deal with issues before allowing the anger to bubble over.

    Try going for a walk and although I'm not Linda, I would say feelings of anger have largely gone now, I'm learning how to cope with life without a fag every time I was so angry I wanted to tell someone to f*ck themselves. Having a fag kept me polite in some sense passive, think about saying what you have to say but assertively not aggressively, your entitled to your opinion.

    Good luck and start to acknowledge what you've achieved so far.

    M

  • Hi Raz,

    Sorry I havent read all the replies but I hit a bit of a downer a few months after my quit, mainly due to the collapse of my business and wondering what to do next.

    I think BMan was spot on in that giving up smoking leaves us with other things to deal with, and again with the key to beating a down moment is clean living, diet and exercise. Thats what works for me!

    Don't forget also the dark early nights don't help, but the sun is now back on its way to us, and spring will soon be here.

    Im really finding jogging helps lift my mood, and picking up on what you said, the smoking made me feel tired all the time. In fact, I think I would have smoked myself into an early grave had I kept on smoking, and with the fitness I feel 99% great. The odd 1% is the slight downer I sometimes have, although if you ever met me in real life, you would never guess that I ever had a downer (or depression).

    Good luck with it all, I can recommend the couch 2 5k jogging program to help you.

    Paul

  • The feelings I am getting at the moment are really weird. I feel like I have done something really bad and am waiting for judgement or something!

    Never thought I would experience these kind of feelings, I supose in the past when I felt anxious I would have another cigarette.

    Certainly hope these feelings don't last long!

    raza and stateofplay - battled with some of these things you are mentioning and just wanted to write this quickly as its something that I'm kinda accepting now at the 5 month mark.

    I think Amsie kinda hit on it as well. Smoking kept me passive in life, and also feeling week and drained after every cig and with no real "get up and go".

    now the smoking is gone we've got more getup and go but its feeling like anxiety and nervous energy. thats where the fitness stuff comes in. We are built to be active people, thats how nature made us, and a lot of us arent active enough. A lot of men these days sit down all day long, then sit down on the way home and then when they get home they sit down.

    this is a far cry from having to run after an animal and kill it. lol.

    i know that sounds a bit extreme and we have evolved slightly from the hunter gatherer, but not as much as to not need a good outlet for all the natural energy.

    Natures biggest two ways of trying to keep us fit was

    1) go out and find food.

    2) have sex.

    well, in my depressing life right now I fail on both accounts!

    1) get tesco delivery

    2) dont have a regular girlfriend

    the other thing I am becoming more aware of is that I am naturally quite an emotionally up and down person. And if I am totally honest with myself, this hasnt really changed much from when I was a smoker.

    I have down days now, but I had pretty down days as a smoker. If anyone can put their hand on their heart and tell me that they cant remember standing outside smoking and feeling sh*t about themselves, and then just lighting up again as they just felt so bad they couldnt face going back inside just yet, then I will take my hat off to you. But if I'm honest, I always had stuff to worry about and feel bad about.

    I still do, but 5 months into giving up smoking I have started to be able to use some of that nervous energy for getting fit (just bought a new bike in the sale after riding the other one since i was 13) and things do start to snowball and life does get gradually better.

    Yeah I want it all to be fixed now, and I wanna undo the damage of 16 years of chainsmoking and heavy drinking now. And yeah I wanna spend my evenings in a swimming pool natalie portman.

    it will come. We will feel like gold dust again. But I'm starting to realise that quitting smoking is the first step to getting all this other stuff sorted out and slowly accepting that its gonna take some time.

    but thats alright. I aint going anywhere I hope! :)

    anyway. enough from me. Were all doing brilliant i think, congrats to both of you for holding out through all the bad feeling. It takes some strength. I recon is a case of there is gold at the end of the rainbow but you gotta get through the rain to get there.

  • MAH, thanks for your post. Whilst I have no desire to smoke and don't consciously resent not smoking, I have been struggling somewhat with an uncharacteristically bad temper. It flares up instantly out of nowhere, I lash out verbally at whichever family member/work colleague/even some passerby who has just irritated me and then its gone. I'm left feeling at best sheepish and have done some damage to my relationships with some very articulate, sometimes too truthful, outbursts. I would never normally dream of saying some of this stuff, it just comes out during a flash of temper. Your post was really helpful and has given me something to think about, as well as a possible coping strategy.

  • This is such an interesting thread - and for what its worth here's my two pennies worth.

    Am now at 4 months done - and have been VERY emotional through the entire process - tho the last few weeks have not been too bad.

    But I now recognise that sometimes I also get the anxiety feeling - just something I can't shake - a bit like what StateOfPlay describes. Its really odd. And I think it is the increased energy - as sometimes when I feel like that I walk really fast and breathe really deeply - and everything seems ok - its like I'm using up the excess energy (GOD! I sound like a right nutter!!)

    But I don;t feel like that all the time. Usually I'm quite level. Want to reach the position where I'm like that all the time.

  • atomic guy you quit about the same day as me so i think we are somewhat in the same place in our quit,i also quit cold turkey.

    the excess energy makes some sense but some of the excess energy seemed very negetive,i was manic at the worst,then id feel at times almost euphoria,this has subsided but the mood swings remain,though not as bad its still there,my fuse is so short it makes me want to avoid everyone,not a good idea in the long run i hasten to add.

  • This is a very interesting thread.

    As someone with bipolar I just thought I was having one of my mixed episodes these last few months, maybe it is the ciggies.

    I do remember thinking at one point 'OMG this is forever', and the thought of going without a ciggie forever was very difficult because I smoked from such a young age.

    Week 10, 11 and 12 were by far the hardest. Here I am in week 16 (and at last losing count of the days and weeks), becoming very aware of things getting better.

  • Jo, how do your mixed episodes present themselves? I have always had probs with anxiety and depression. Sometimes the depression is the flat blaaaah apathy sort, and sometimes it's a kinda edgy panicky thinking am gonna go nuts sort. I wonder if i might have a touch of bipolar, although i don't think i've ever been manic. I am a bit "up and down" .

  • Hi Jude, for me they are symptoms of one mood crossing into the other.

    EG I sometimes have to pour myself out of bed barely able to speak for tears only to be dancing on the ceiling like its my birthday come 11pm. I may be very depressed and having very dark thoughts but they will be racing thoughts which usually come with being a bit high. I can be hiding under the duvet and suddenly get up and start emptying kitchen cupboards to clean them out. I can be in an ok mood then suddenly for no apparent reason become very edgy, tearful, anxious or irritable and I can turn like a sixpence.

    Then I have periods of depression as we know it, usually followed buy a period of being high.

    I have never had full blown mania thankfully

  • Gosh Jo, that sounds very difficult if you never know what kind of mood you will be in! Are the highs fun though? I always thought at least Bipolar depressives have a bit of relief and something to look forward to, but i guess it's not like that in real life....?

  • This is a very interesting thread.

    As someone with bipolar I just thought I was having one of my mixed episodes these last few months, maybe it is the ciggies.

    I do remember thinking at one point 'OMG this is forever', and the thought of going without a ciggie forever was very difficult because I smoked from such a young age.

    Week 10, 11 and 12 were by far the hardest. Here I am in week 16 (and at last losing count of the days and weeks), becoming very aware of things getting better.

    Hell! I am so glad to hear of another Bi Polar disorder person giving up! I had been told by many that is was near impossible for someone like me, but now I feel some hope - can we do it without ending up hospitalised? or without doubling out medication to the point that we can't wake up in the morning! after reading that post I could almost believe in myself being able to quit!

  • Gosh Jo, that sounds very difficult if you never know what kind of mood you will be in! Are the highs fun though? I always thought at least Bipolar depressives have a bit of relief and something to look forward to, but i guess it's not like that in real life....?

    the highs are sometimes the things that give you the lows!

    I have sometimes not slept for two weeks due to a high, at the end of a high its nothing but an up hill recovery.

    My Highs turn me into Super woman, I don't need to sleep, eat or take any notice of medical advice! I love the highs because I get so much done, but they have a price. Yes for me the highs are fun but as I said they come at a price and sometimes the price is a stay in hospital.

  • Jo and Little -I find this very interesting because I 've had a couple of times that made me think i was a (little) bit bipolar.I know that there are varying degrees of it, so nothing really major.

    I was taking anti depressants once and lost a lot of weight. They made me feeel quite speedy and i started shopping a lot! I spent an awful lot of money which was quite scary. Another time i did actually do some really strange(and embarassing) things which i don't really want to mention here, but ended up ruining a good relationship totally on a whim. I did stuff which was very out of character for me, and i seemed to lose all of my inhibitions (I'm usually very shy)

    So yeah, can relate , definitely to the depression anyway. I think giving up smoking is gonna be harder for us than others but probably more beneficial.

  • Hell! I am so glad to hear of another Bi Polar disorder person giving up! I had been told by many that is was near impossible for someone like me, but now I feel some hope - can we do it without ending up hospitalised? or without doubling out medication to the point that we can't wake up in the morning! after reading that post I could almost believe in myself being able to quit!

    Yes i was told it may make me go off on one, my CPN actively encouraged me to continue smoking - never did like her. So I didnt tell my team, I just did it lol. After all I had nothing to lose really, certainly not my mind, that left yeas ago haha

    Sorry I feel like I am hijacking Razawires thread now, if anyone wants to start another thread about it I'll happily join in :-)

    Hope your feeling a little better Raza

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