Anxiety Disorders and Cigarette Addiction

Smoke me tenderThe one thing that all forms of mental ailment have in common is that they cause great distress to those that endure them.

As a result, many people that have anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., turn to substance abuse to cope, and cigarettes is one of the most common drugs used for this purpose.

Now, let me get something straight, I don’t equate anxiety disorder with any of the personality disorders. These are very different conditions that are not connected to anxiety disorder per say.

So to all my hypochondriacs please relax because I don’t want you making a left turn on me. I am trying to point out that when people are under great stress some people tend to smoke. I recently found an interesting article about this very issue.

In a recent Indystar article writer Shari Rudavsky spoke with Dr. Andrew Chambers of Indiana University School of Medicine. Chambers stated that there is a definite connection between mental ailment and cigarettes and other more hard core drugs like cocaine.

According to Chambers something like 50% of cigarettes are smoked by people that are plagued by conditions like bipolar disorder, major depression, PTSD, and of course, anxiety disorders. Chambers also claims that among the ‘general’ population the smoking rate is much lower.

The good doctor went on to say that it is believed that people with mental problems smoke because they are more susceptible to addiction and because nicotine acts as a “mood modulator”. So is their a connection between anxiety or other mental conditions and cigarettes?

Chambers says yes and asserts that many smokers start smoking when they’re young (under 25) and this may change the brains chemistry which opens the door to mental illness. What! Cigarettes give you the shakes? I used to be unsure about this last point, however, I have read studies that indicate that adolescents that smoke are much more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

So there is a vicious cycle here that goes something like – person smokes and develops anxiety and smokes more to deal with the anxiety or alternatively, person gets anxiety and smokes or does other drugs to cope with the anxiety. Either way you develop anxiety and turn to drugs to take off the sharp edge produced by sustained nervousness.

This article caught my eye because I smoked cigarettes for over 8 years. Surprise, surprise I have had anxiety disorder for 9 years. So yea I smoked to relieve my stress and fear, but I have since quit smoking (4 months ago).

Is it really surprising though that many anxiety sufferers smoke? I don’t think so being that cigarettes, although they actually aggravate anxiety (more on this later), can produce a mild sense of sedation.

I wanted to write about this because I wanted to highlight the fact that we don’t need chemical substances to help us along. It used to be difficult for me to leave my home without my cigarettes but now I don’t even think about it. I decided that since having an anxiety disorder increased my risk of serious disease later in life, like heart┬ádisease and the like.

I wanted to help myself and not add to the mix. Besides, just like the other ‘official’ drugs used to treat anxiety, cigarettes are not healing you. They are simply masking your symptoms and not allowing to deal with underlying issues. And it’s not just nicotine either – alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and any other drug falls under the same category of not needed.

How To Quit Smoking Even If You Don’t Want To


  1. Landon says

    I’ve noticed my anxiety (which was just god awful) has since withered away almost completely since I stopped smoking. I smoked for 5 years and I’m 3 months clean. I still get anxiety but it’s good now, it’s not that overloaded adrenaline feeling

  2. Valente says

    I recently quit smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), and alcohol. I found that my anxiety symptoms were greatly reduced. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, but even the occasional smoke or drink was bringing on anxiety attacks. I was on medication previously for anxiety,(which did help). But quiting the substances has brought about even better results….Hope this helps someone!!

  3. Jessalyn says

    Im 19 years old and i smoke i was diagnosed with anixety on my birthday ive been through alot in my past lived a 30 years old life i have no idea what going on and i just want this fix! The day before i was diagnosed i thought i had the bug i was vomiting every five min. I couldnt breath which made my body really numb and i couldnt walk i felt like i was going to die now i think im going crazy and its distracting me from going where i need to go. Idk what to do but maybe i can tell my story to women my age or younger.

  4. jack says

    I agree 100 percent with the more “recent” ideas that depression,anx.( some anx. disorders) are linked to cigs directly, the carcinogenic stuff, less likely to exercise,move etc.. it might increase dopamine for 5 or ten min utes, then its a sharp decrease, mood disorders also, add/adhd( cognitive effects) the toxicity on the brain.. I’m 44, been smoking 25 years , I feel the psych. effects of EVERYTHING i just mentioned,, got patches yest.. need to do this NOW

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *