Failure to Quit Smoking Creates More Anxiety, Not Less

Individuals who successfully quit smoking may experience a marked reduction in anxiety, whereas failure to achieve abstinence may lead to a long-term increase in anxiety, new research suggests.

The study, which included almost 500 adult smokers who attended smoking cessation clinics in England, showed that those who relapsed 6 months after treatment had significantly higher anxiety scores than those who remained abstinent.

In addition, the smokers who had a comorbid psychiatric disorder and who relapsed had the highest increases in anxiety scores from baseline, whereas the comorbid group who continued to stay abstinent had more decreases in scores.

The investigators note that these findings contradict the common assumption that smoking itself is a stress reliever. However, it also suggests that “failure of a quit attempt may generate anxiety.”

“The main message to take away is that cigarette smoking almost certainly does not help people to cope with stress regardless of their reasons for smoking. In fact, the opposite may well be true,” lead author Máirtín S. McDermott, PhD, research health psychologist at King’s College London, United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News.

by Deborah Brauser, Medscape

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