Anxiety

I've been a committed smoker since the age of 17, apart from when I was pregnant, and the time has now come to stop.

Actually the time came 7 years ago. I stopped - dead - experienced no cravings and thought I'd cracked it. Then, after a few weeks, the panic attacks hit, to a disabling level. I took myself off to the GP and asked him if this was a side effect of stopping smoking. He said it wasn't - I was obviously very anxious - but all he could offer was a prescription for nice addictive sleeping tablets, although I was sleeping fine.

I then rang my local stop smoking service and asked them, but they'd never heard of this. I contacted every smoking cessation organisation I could find on the web and they all said the same, although asking round, it seems that this is actually quite common.

I went back to smoking and the anxiety disappeared. Because it was so disabling, lying in a darkened room for days at a time with one panic attack coming after another, I was frankly scared to have another go, but I did try again in March this year, and after 4 days, the same thing happened.

The panic comes in waves and I don't seem to be able to do anything about it. My head felt as if it was about to burst and the left hand side of my face was completely numb. The feeling has mostly come back now.

I have contacted my local smoking cessation service again, but all they seem to do is hand out nicotine replacement, which I don't get on with. I can't use patches because of contraindications and lozenges or whatever just make me feel sick.

Has anybody else experienced this anxiety issue and, if so, what did you do about it?

I really want to give up smoking, but I know I can't do it without proper support and I'm afraid that if the anxiety is connected I will need psychological support, which is not available in my local area.

Any suggestions anyone?

6 Replies

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  • My goodness, that sounds awful.

    I could say 'smoking doesn't cure anxiety' and it's true, but in the face of what you've gone through on previous quits, just saying it isn't going to help much.

    It seems to me that you would be a great candidate for hypnotherapy. Is there no chance at all you could get a referral to a therapist in your area? If you had to pay for one it would be less than the cost of smoking, overall, and might still be worth considering. Sleeping pills are a daft idea but beta blockers would help to reduce your heart rate and the overwhelming effects of a panic attack.

    You might be able to get useful advice from one of the helplines that deal with anxiety, like anxietyuk.org.uk

    It's great that under the circs you're even thinking about quitting again. I really hope you can overcome this stumbling block, because the end results are so worth it.

    Good luck xxx

  • Gottodoit

    Hi there i was just reading your post. I do actually suffer from Anxiety myself but i do also take med for it i think you should go back and see your doctor and explain how this is affecting you he should be putting u on medication. You see i believe that your panic attacks are there because your anxious about how you will be without ciggies. You need to feel completely at ease with yourself which you are not at the moment. I see a lady within the dr's clinic they should really be advising you. Is there anyway you can see another doctor. Let me know how you get on. But dont feel bad just make sure you get the appropriate help. Good luck.

  • Hi, first post here.

    My GP seems to think I use cigarettes as a sort of anti anxiety drug, so I'm in a similar situation to you. Nicotine is a MAOI or tobacco smoke also contails an MAOI which synergises with nicotine to produce the 'rewarding' effects (I forget which). This tricks your brain into believing you're doing something good and thus can act as an anti depressant so I'm sure your situation is very real. Since nicotine patches don't contain the other chemicals, I'm not suprised they don't work for you. They don't work for me either.

    I'm only 23 yet smoke about 30 a day with high blood pressure already. This is most definitely caused by anxiety, which in turn is caused by smoking. A vicious circle if you will.

    As soon as I realised that he was right, as smoking IS my antidepressant, my blood pressure as dropped from 160/100 to around 130/75. When I wake up it's 120/65 which is pretty much perfect, until I get on the cigs and it climbs and I get anxious. I then smoke more cigs to control this.

    This is the nature of my addiction anyway. You just have to remember it's all in your mind. The mind is incredibly powerful.

    Cigs don't cure you, they simply make it worse each time you smoke one.

    I'm on day 3 of champix, quit day is the 27th. I'll let you know how I get on!

    Here's some information on MAOIs, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoa...

    Sound familar with nicotine?

    Above all, remember that CIGARETTES DON'T CURE YOUR ANXIETY, THEY CAUSE IT! You are a normal human, it is natural to feel this way! GOOD LUCK!

  • Hmm. I tend to be on the anxious (particularly socially anxious) side, and was very much so as a teenager. You have made me wonder if i too started to cope with anxiety ....swings and roundabouts though because in my quits I noticed that my tendency to depression which was more of a problem at that time, got a lot,lot better.Now I'm not a full time smoker I haven't had proper depression since .

    A really good book for Natural Supplements for anyone quitting anything (inc alcohol and drugs) is Patrick Holfords "How to Quit Without Feeling Sh@t"

    His stance is that quitting leaves you with quit symptoms that can persist and make you relapse for years after. He's a Nutritionist can be a bit Brain BioChemistryish but the book is easy to read.

  • wow, i know what you mean i'm on day 14 now, sometimes my head feels empty at the front and i can sometimes not even think straight. I have suffered with anxiety and depression before, however i had got rid of it, un til the daY CAME OF ME STOPING SMOKING. it generally is getting better now, but i am taking a beta blocker for when i am feeling like that. Ihave read lots of people saying about this elsewere and they they say it does stop. I can't handle my emotions since i quit, and i know i used to have a cigarette to relief me of such things, however i know don't have that as a option so therefore i tend to freak out till my body panics, but overall i am getting more control of it.

    hope this helps you are not alone xx

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