Hi all. I have met a few people on the anxiety board that are smokers or ex-smokers, and I was hoping to connect with them regarding this awful habit. I know that there are a couple of other boards that this could be posted on, but I want to talk about the anxiety aspects of it, so I hope it is OK that I posted it here.
Most people will tell us that smoking and anxiety don't go well together. In some ways I agree. However, it seems that when I get really anxious, if I smoke I actually feel better. I would love to quit, but the few times I have tried my anxiety got worse and I couldn't do it. For those of you who have quit, did you have increased anxiety while quitting, and what did you do to overcome it?
For those of you that smoke (myself included) do you worry about what it is doing to your health? It amazes me how I have horrible health anxiety, and always worry that there is something wrong with me, and yet I still smoke. It is absolutely insane!!! Why do I continue to do this to myself? I have posted several times about my heart worries. I have noticed that when I get up in the morning my heart rate does go up just by simply getting out of bed, but then it really goes up after I have that first cigarette. But yet I still do it every morning. Doesn't make much sense, does it?
I keep telling myself that I need to quit, but I get anxious just thinking about it. I have tried so many different ways and have failed each time. The American Lung Association has a Freedom from Smoking class and I was trying to find one in my area to sign up for, but found out I can do it online. So this is my newest attempt. It says that it will help you to handle stress. I sure hope so!
I guess the main question of my post (because I feel like I'm rambling now) is for those of you who have quit, how did you get past the anxiety of it? I don't necessarily have nicotine withdrawals, but I can't seem to live without my anxiety "crutch". I know smoking (and all other stimulants) are supposed to make anxiety worse, but it seems to help me. I want to know how to get past that.
I know that in the morning when i wake up i generally feel good - until I pick up a cig. I know that all of my doctor's have been telling me to quit and my anxiety will leave. I tried one day to quit and I was out of my skin with anxiety. I;m not sure how to do this! I mean I gave up my 10 cup of coffee habit and my panic attacks left - I donsuffer from all of the other side effects; mad thoughts, foggy fealling etc, but the thought of giving up my "crutch" makes me insane.
They do say that welbutrin and xanax or klonopin helps. Have you tried any of these?
Here I am another smoker with anxiety disorder.I smoke alot and have tried even just cutting back but it never lasts long.Some of my issue is though I do enjoy smoking unfortunately.I do fear for my health because of smoking yes.I already have the smokers cough and I cannot jog and run long when exercising the best I can do is speed walk some I am sure if I did'nt smoke at 32 yrs old I could do better.I do feel bad about smoking especialy because I do have 5 kids.I can also relate to when you say you think it helps with your anxiety sometimes same for me BUT I think that is a mental thing because we are addicted to these things like you say its a "crutch".I also have the heart worries sometimes I get PVC's (doc says no worries) but other symptoms now too left arm pains and lightheadedness and yes if I did'nt smoke I am sure I would'nt be as worried.My mother stopped smoking about 6 years ago now and she smoked alot for about 43 years and stopped cold turkey.I wish I could do that but thing is I probably could but id have to really really want to.I just went out last night and got an elliptical (exercise equiptment) and im thinking good lord how long will I actualy last on that thing lol I will be so out of breath probably so fast from the smoking.Anyway,I think im gonna check out that program your signing up for see if its available near me too.I think I would feel so free if I stopped smoking.
Well all I can say is I tried for one day and I lasted 10 hours and started to feel horriable!!! The headaches were worse, the dizziness was alot worse, I felt very anxious, BUT the heart rate was good, in the 70's and you know I run high all day long. I Had a cigarette and thought I was going to pass out!
Then after a few hours had another, so I am a loser too! I thought about replacement therapy, but the side effects are NOT good for someone with rapid heart rates, I remember my Cardiologist said NOT to use the patch. That was in my case of course... So here I am still smoking, still thinking I am going to die of the big C.. Still an Anxiety Disaster!
My Father~in law gave me some advice.. he quit 15 years ago.. he said he took a few out of his pack everyday until he was down to one, and that last one he smoked made him so sick he never touched them again.. So he weaned himself off by still smoking but less and less everyweek.. he would space the one's he had out throughout the day... This is hard because you still are smoking and most of us enjoy it. It somewhat is relaxing for me, ~even though It makes my heart race!! and I might have a few and then a few more so there is no good answer other than going through the withdrawls as hard as they may be.. I guess I will have to spend days in bed because I really couldn't function after the 10 hours without it..
I wish I would have never picked this habit up and I am like you so anxious about my health I can't even believe I smoke!! Hopefully you and I can over come both the anxiety and the addiction!! If I find any other good tips I pass them along as well.. I shall try again!! Boxerlover
I didn't have problems with anxiety until I quit smoking. I actually went a whole year and then wammo! I quit January 2, 2005 after being a "social" smoker since the 1990s. I went cold turkey and seemed like I was sick all the time. Finally a year and a half later I started having panic attacks, but have been much better for a couple of months. The side effects from Xanax are much better to deal with than smoking. It was really hard to resist a smoke with a drink and all, but I am actually starting to reak the benefits now. Its hard to do, but trust me, quitting does pay off. Also, you don't really know how much your clothes smell until you quit and smell it on someone else. That is what keeps me from picking up the habit again.
Hi everyone, I am a smoker too, I quit three times when I was pregnant with my children, but always started again god knows why probably stress, I would really like to give it up again but I really need a good way, I have tried cold turkey but my stress seems to hit the roof, I know it is a terrible habit, I know I need to give it up, I want to be around to see my kids grow up fall in love and I want to see my grand children, I know if I do not find a way to quit soon I may not be around due to health issues and it does scare me but also smoking is expensive and it smells bad, I smoke outside never in the house and never around my children, I need to find a way to quit and I know it, I just have a hard time, I am with all of you I need a good way to quit to, HELP!! Amy
I discovered that smoking was covering my anxiety!!! I have probably always had this problem but never new because smoking covered it up. I smoked 20 yrs now at 35 yrs old I smoked more than half of my life, so I did not know how to cope with life or stress because I would lite up and make it all better. One evening I did not plan it I just quit smoking!!!
After the 1st week of quitting I freaked, panick attack!!! I needed some help I went to the Dr and he put me on xanax and lexapro, they are working soooo well for me. I had tried Wellbutrin and Prozac they were not right for me. I am now quit for 2 months and could not of done it till I got myself under control with medication. I always go to the gym and eat right and those things did not help. And I am starting counsling next week!!!
It is hard never ever did I think I would ever quit smoking! But it is sooo wonderful without them.
I was just thinking of posting about this yesterday! I smoke too, about a pack or less a day for 20 yrs, I'm 36. With all of my worries about heart problems why the heck would I continue this? I really want to quit to a point. I say this because for me it's actually calming even though it's a stimulant. I'm so afraid I'll have severe anxiety plus I have no willpower. I gave up my coffee and diet coke no problem, even completely changed my diet since my cholesterol was a little out of whack, but the smoking........I'm not sure I can right now. I know I'm making excuses. My therapist told me yesterday about a pill the FDA is suppose to approve maybe next year (not like Zyban) but in studies 9 out of 10 people quit smoking in 6-8 months without any ill side effects. She wasn't sure of the name. I just wish it was easy to quit, hey it was easy to start!
I am amazed at the feeback I received on this thread. I guess there are a lot of us out there. Thank you to everyone that responded. I'm going to attempt to respond back to everyone here because I really do appreciate the feedback.
j2006 - I tried welbutrin once. You are supposed to take 150mg for three days and then go up to 300mg. After the first 300mg I took I was out of work for two days. I couldn't even stand up straight I was so lightheaded. I know people that have taken it and have had wonderful results, but obviously I couldn't tolerate the side effects.
tnmom - I enjoy smoking too. If I could keep smoking without endangering my health I would do it forever. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I'm actually starting at a gym tonight, so I will see how long I can actually exercise. (I think I'm having a little anxiety about that just because of all the heart worries and such.) When I found that stop smoking program I actually found out that it started in my area last week so I decided to sign up for the online program, rather than wait another 8 weeks. It's free, so why not? It might be better going in person, but I am really going to give this a try. The first lesson said to pick a quit date in about three weeks, so I have done that. It is marked on my calendar and everything. Hopefully I can do it this time.
sponsoredbynobody - Did you successfully quit? If so, did your anxiety lessen once you quit for good? That is my biggest fear, that my anxiety will be worse without my trusty little cigs.
boxerlover - I tried to taper down once. It didn't work. (Not saying that it won't work for you.) I read something online that talks about how tapering down just keeps you in a constant state of withdrawal. I'm afraid to use the patch too, because of the heart stuff. I did try that once too, and smoked while I had it on. bad bad bad!!! We're not losers...but it is very hard to accept that something like this can control us like it does. It makes me so mad sometimes.
lylone - Good for you for quitting!! I'm so glad your anxiety didn't make you pick it back up again.
Amy D.J. - Ditto to everything you said. Although I don't have children yet, I do want some one of these days.
Reyne - Good for you too!! Is your anxiety better with the help of the meds? As I said to another poster - that is my biggest fear that my anxiety will get worse. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me.
nuttygirl - Apparently we share the same fear with the anxiety. I, too, wish it was as easy to quit as it was to start.
Thanks again everyone for your posts. Smoking is probably one of the worst things we can do as anxiety sufferers. First, even though we feel it calms us, it probably does fuel our anxiety. And second, those of us with health anxiety are worried about what it is doing to us. It is a vicious cycle and I hope we can find a way to break it. I hope to see some of you on the smoking cessation board if I ever make it there!
I quit smoking in March after smoking for 35 yrs. I never believed that I could stop. It can be done. You just have to educate yourself. I used wellbutrin & Committ Lozenges. I was only able to take 1/2 dose of Wellbutrin because of the side effects but it still worked. The real secret to my success were 2 websites. One is a HUGH support forum. I don't believe that I can give you a link . This group is awesome. Of those that quit on that site in March, 50% are still not smoking. I think that is amazing. The other website is a 10 day online course that teaches you to change the way you view your relationship with cigarettes. You can find a link in the posts at that support group. Once you learn how to rethink smoking, it becomes so much easier. I found out that the thing that kept me smoking was fear. Fear of quitting. One thing that really helped me was that I learned that when you quit the craves that you go through only last 3-5 min. Once I realized that, I also realized that I could survive them.
It really is doable, you just have to change the way you think about smoking.
Yes, the meds REALLY helped me. Before I quit smoking I was a laid back person took things in stride. I loved my cigs and everyone knew it, they never thought I could quit. When I quit I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin!! I have always worked out but nothing seemed enought to calm me down.
That is when the Doc thought maybe that nicotine was masking anxiety. I have seen the Doc more now that I have quit than when I was smoking....he is really helped me.
It will happen for you just make sure to be patient with yourself!!!!
Best wishes to all you guys---I hope you can all successfully quit. It must be harder for people with anxiety to quit because I hear nicotine (or at least smoking a cigarette) gives you a little bit of calm for a while. My younger brother smokes for this reason. Our father quit some years ago when Zyban first came out, he had been a smoker since he was a teenager. My grandfather quit in his 60s after he had some heart problems. He replaced cigarettes with sugar-free peppermints (so he could have something in his mouth) and never smoked again. Even though I grew up on a tobacco farm (as my family before me), I've always been the anxious type of person who is super health-conscious so I tried smoking as a teenager (I smoked perhaps one pack total over about 3 weeks) then abandoned it never to pick one up again. Anyhow, just some stories to tell you guys----if tobacco farmers who smoked since their teens can quit, you guys can! Best wishes to you!
Yes, I did quit for 2 months and it did nothing for my anxiety. I started again as a conscious decision, and I won't be so hard on myself next time I try to quit.
I've heard all this stuff about caffeine and alcohol and nicotine making your anxiety worse and all this stuff, but as far as Im concerned it a load of BS. Same with the reason depressed people are depressed. Is it because they have a chemical imbalance, or do they have a chemical imbalance because they are depressed?
As far as Im concerned, both depression and anxiety are patholigcally induced. It has to do with THE WAY YOU THINK. Taking medication for it won't ever help you in the long run, the fact is you have to change the way you think in order to get better.
As for cigarettes, or alcohol or caffeine or whatever, it also depends on your state of mind. There have been times where I can drink a whole pot of coffee and felt better than normal and times where one cup at night has made me panic, but it was NEVER the coffee, it was always my mental state and I blamed it on the coffee.
Perhaps substances can increase the sensitivity of your system, but they are, IMHO, NEVER the CAUSE OF YOUR PROBLEMS.
I'm 36 and have been smoking since I was 13. One of the reasons I want to quit is because I feel aweful. I have put it off because I have anxiety and panic attacks for fear it would get worse, indeed the last time I was going to quit, the day before I had a horrible emotional day and cried and had all this anger all day and this was before the quit day. I didn't quit the next day I was too afraid. Honestly though after I got that out I felt better.
I can honestly say that I don't enjoy smoking, I do it because I am addicted to it. I can get up in the morning and feel fairly good and then do that half a smoke and start to feel aweful all over again. The biggest things I realize is the dizziness and the increase in heart rate right after. I smoke to feed the addict, it's not relaxing it's not enjoyable to inhale hot stinky smoke, I just used to think I enjoyed it. Then I cut way down and actually paid attention to when I wanted to smoke and how I smoked and how my mind and body felt when I smoked. I'm afraid to quit, I'm afraid I'm too weak and this is my big speed bump I haven't figured out how to get over yet.
I've always wondered how people with anxiety felt after they stopped smoking I'm glad someone posted this thread. I've asked in other forums and gotten mixed results.
I smoked consistantly for 5 years or so. I quit with the patches, and total cost was about $150 in the end. YIKES! But I switched over to healthier eating and exercising, and I also went to doctors and specialists regularly to dig deeper than anxiety itself. From that I found out more about my health, and I am feeling a lot better (not to mention cleaner and respected) as opposed to when I smoked. It's worth it.