Giving up smoking reduces anxiety

By Siski Green, Friday 4 January 2013

You may think having a cigarette helps you relax in social situations or after a long day, but according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, stopping smoking actually makes you less anxious, not more.
Stubbed out cigaretteResearch has found that successfully giving up smoking makes you less anxious

Researchers from various UK universities including Oxford and King’s College in London followed 500 smokers who were trying to quit, and found that those who successfully stayed off the cigarettes for six months showed a significant decrease in anxiety levels. Those who failed to quit, however, did show a slight increase in anxiety levels.

When the researchers looked more deeply into the results they found that the reason behind a smoker’s habit affected the likelihood of anxiety.

People who smoked for pleasure didn’t show the same increase in anxiety levels if they failed to quit, they also didn’t show a significant reduction if they succeeded.

Those who smoked to cope with stress or other emotions were more likely to smoke immediately after waking – often to address their withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiousness.

These people are obviously more likely to report a reduction in anxiety if they are successful in quitting – as by doing so they are avoiding the anxious feelings of needing that early morning cigarette.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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