Quitting smoking ‘reduces anxiety’

Smokers who successfully quit feel less anxious afterwards – despite the belief that smoking relieves stress, researchers say.
The British Journal of Psychiatry study followed nearly 500 smokers attending stop smoking clinics.
It found a “significant” decrease in anxiety levels among the 68 smokers who had quit after six months.
The researchers – drawn from several universities including Cambridge, Oxford and Kings’s College in London – said the findings should be used to reassure smokers attempting to quit that concerns about increased anxiety levels were unfounded.

However, the study did suggest that a failed attempt seemed to increase anxiety levels by a modest degree among those who had mood disorders.

For those who smoked for pleasure a relapse did not alter anxiety levels.

The researchers said it seemed that smokers – particularly those that smoked to cope – were more likely to have a cigarette soon after waking up to stave off withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety.

By quitting, they removed these repeated episodes of anxiety and felt less anxious as a result, they added.