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Why am I consumed with anxiety about quitting smoking?

Posted by jlw1581

Smoker on and off for 48 years. Depression and anxiety disorder. Smoking takes the edge off of my anxiety and panic attacks.
Answers (3)
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Ian Health Maven
While tobacco smoke contains chemicals with similar properties to MAOI class antidepressants, it does not take "the edge off " anxiety/panic. What smoking a cigarette does is ease the withdrawal affects of nicotine which include added anxiety creating the illusion that it is reducing the overall anxiety level.

As a former smoker I understand how difficult it is to give it up. As one of the few long term lung cancer survivors I know the devastation smoking causes, so I urge you to keep trying. Less than 15% of those diagnoses with this disease are still alive 5 years later. Most are dead with a few weeks or months. It is a very unpleasant way to die.

Even surviving isn't a barrel of laughs. I was lucky that the nodule on my left lung was caught early, before the cancer had metastasized which meant I was a candidate for potentially curative surgery. Chemo and radiation treatments don't often completely kill the cancer. They may extend life, but they don't usually cure.

Surgery to remove a lobe of the lung is considered to be post-operatively the most painful surgery done because it affects one of the major nerves in the upper back. Despite the wound being continually irrigated with local anesthetic and on-demand morphine, recovery was agony. Pain may continue for months.

And the problems don't end with an end to the pain. Losing a quarter if your lung capacity affects what you can do physically, especially if the remaining lungs are affected by emphysema. Most smokers have emphysema to some degree.

The lungs also act as the cardiovascular system's shock absorbers. The reduced lung capacity increases back pressure to the heart which may cause it to enlarge (cardiomegaly) to compensate. Symptoms of cardiomegaly include breathing problems, dizziness, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart palpitations. Symptoms you definitely don't want if you have an anxiety disorder.

So please continue trying to give up. As uncomfortable as this can be at times, it is infinitely better than what you may go through if you continue to smoke. Nicotine patches or gum can make quitting easier. If you are taking anti anxiety medication then a short-term dose increase may help. Discuss this with your doctor before altering the dose to ensure there are no health risks in doing so.

Good luck

Thanks Ian. I'm glad you are here to give me a reality check. Not everyone has made it through to give such good advice.  I'm going to be so mad at myself if it is too late to change my outcome.
Ian Health Maven

Glad my prattling helped. :)

There is no guarantee that you won't still develop lung cancer if you quit. The damage may already be done.

What saved my bacon was having regular chest x-rays. Discovering it early greatly improves the odds of surviving. Your doctor should be able to suggest the best interval for your age, smoking history, etc. It's a matter of balancing the small added risk from the x-ray radiation. For what it's worth, I was having them at about 2 yearly intervals, however, I also have a history of exposure to asbestos and cancer promoting industrial chemicals so my risk factors were higher than for most smokers.

Best wishes






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