Avatar universal

Quitting smoking and panic?

Last October I was diagnosed with panic disorder w/o agoraphobia after a few visits to the ER and a consult with a psychiatrist.  Since then I've levelled out into remission and I am doing great.  However, now that I'm not in a constant state of panic, I've recently been examining what had been going on in my life at the time it all started and it boiled down to a few things to include finishing graduate school and getting married.  However, one thing has skipped to the forefront of my thoughts; quitting smoking.

You see, I quit smoking in mid-September and by October, I began having daily anxiety attacks.  Given some Xanax by my PCP a couple weeks in to calm my nerves, I woke up the first night taking the Xanax in sheer panic and it was all down hill from there, eventually leading to a partial hospitalization program and a resumption in my smoking habit.  I've read some literature that has spoken to the fact that smoking sometimes hides unknown mental illnesses and that nicotine at times, acts as a mild anti-depressant, but never in my wildest imagination that I thought quitting smoking would lead me into such a sad state.

When I tried to quit again last month, I saw the same development of symptoms of anxiety.  I've talked to my Pdoc about the possibility of using Wellbutrin/Chantix to help with my quit since NRT's don't agree with me at all, but she's been reluctant to prescribe either of them given my diagnosis.

Most of me has accepted the diagnosis and believes I should just stop thinking about it, but part of me thinks that it was, in fact, quitting tobacco that was the catalyst to all this starting.

Anyone have a similar experience?

BTW, I'm currently on 40mg paroxitine/day and 0.5mg clonazepam prn, but haven't used the benzos since last November.
16 Responses
242912 tn?1402543492
Ah, yes, the panic attacks when quitting smoking.  I know them well.  Most definitely affects some people this way.  It took me 45days for the increase in anxiety to settle down, but it finally did.  I can tell you without a doubt, the last thing you want to take is Wellbutrin since it has a very stimulating effect and the Chantix, while a good drug for some, not good for people prone to anxiety or depression.  

Your best bet is to try cold turkey again and talk to your doctor about Clonidine which is a blood pressure med that can also be used for opiate and smoking w/d.  I normally take xanax at night only, but was forced to take it during the day to deal with the anxiety.  I am at 90days today and haven't needed xanax during the day since around day 45.  

If you try again, you just have to hang in there.  I know it's scary.  Increase your exercise to cope with the anxiety, increase your vitamin intake and make sure you eat well.  After the anxiety lifts you may find an increase in depression.  At least I have.  You may want to talk to your dr about an anti-depressant - Not Wellbutrin, though.

Best of luck to you!
2m 4w 20:46 smoke-free, 898 cigs not smoked, $246.95 saved, 3d 2:50 life saved

I smoked for 20 years, a pack a day for most of those years. I haven't smoked in a year and 4 months. I haven't had any nicotine in a little over 5 months.

I'm done with smoking. I have no desire to start again and I can't even remember the last time I thought about it.

About 2 months ago I started having panic attacks of varying degrees (never had one before). On average of about 2-3 a week. I didn't think it was related at first since it was a full 3 months after I stopped having nicotine, and severely tapered down prior to that. But after reading all these comments I feel so much better.

I really wish my cardiologist could have put 2 and 2 together so I didn't have to Sherlock Holmes it on the freaking internet, all the while feeling like I'm losing my mind. However, I am thankful for the battery of tests that he put me through...to find out that I am physically healthy.

My only concern now is how much longer I have to put up with this, assuming it will go away. But to end on a positive note, understanding why this is occurring feels fantastic. And I'd like to thank everybody here for their input and bravery.

Thanks again!
326505 tn?1304169225
I'm glad Jade answered that one : )

I have suffered for many years with panic attacks but I have to say, since I quit,I have had very few! I know that many of my issues dealt with illness and smoking related aches and pains. The last 7 or so years I was on an inhaler because I had the beginnings of COPD. I smoked for 40 years and did a lot of damage : ( Also, the worry of affording them, finding a place to enjoy one with all these bans, this all became a part of my worry and made me all the more susceptible to panic attacks.
It is stressful to quit but when you come to terms with it and realize that you are building a healthier you, it can only be a positive thing : )

I agree with Jade on this one, CT is the best way. Try reading through the articles on whyquit.com. I used Chantix but when I stopped the pills, I had to deal with the physical withdrawal and the emotional death of my habit. I think that it just puts off the inevitable.

Good luck and we will be here for you : )
Hello. I just has an xray with signs of good damage. I quit smoking cold turkey and completely changed my diet! I think all this change has caused me to have some anxiety now! My question to you is how are you coping with your cops after making such drastic lifestyle changes?
242912 tn?1402543492
Let me also mention this is my 4th quit in exactly 3yrs.  My very first quit ever was in 07 and I had no idea what I was in for with the anxiety, hence, several relapses.  I've been able to get through these last 90days because I now know from experience everything I've been through is normal and I'm able to tell myself it all won't last forever...and it hasn't.  Each day that goes by brings you closer to feeling better - that's how I've looked at it.  I've also gained comfort knowing others have been through the same thing and have been successful.  Kathy Jo is coming up on 3yrs and others who used to post here have made it a year so it's certainly possible and I think to myself, if they can do it, so can I.  From what I've read on this forum and my own experience, I figure it will be a year before all the w/d symptoms are gone for good.  A year is not that long.

Another trick I've used is to read the addiction forum and listen to all the advice there.  I've never posted there, just replace the word pills, alcohol, herion...with cigarettes because really, all w/d is basically the same.  Of course, there are different levels, but it's basically all the same.  You might look up the Thomas Recipe under their Health Pages.  Good suggestions on how to get through w/d.  

At first, I was taking 1mcg of Clonidine every 6hrs on the dot for the hot flashes.  Slowly but surely that 6hrs turned into 7, then 8...until I was finally down to 1mcg every 12hrs, then could go an entire day without any.   Like I said earlier, took around 45days and that day was obvious because all of a sudden, the internal buzzing finally stopped.  The hard part about w/d is it feels like it will never ever end and you will never feel normal.  You just need to do lots of positive self talk...and post here on this forum for support if you want.   Know that the physical w/d will end, but then comes the mental which is just as difficult, but if you really want to quit smoking, you will.  We think smoking calms us, but in reality, it only adds to our anxiety.  

Look up whyquit,com as Kathy Jo suggested and read what is IN cigarettes.  You will be shocked and also gain some understanding why when you suddenly deprive your body of all these poisons, you will naturally feel like crap.  
Avatar universal
I too quit smoking and then started having panic attacks. I too resumed my nicotine habit after a run with wellbutrin. Wellbutrin works okay but one of the main side effects IS anxiety.
1845567 tn?1318944187
i have quit smoking tobacco and cannibus about 2 months ago,, about 3 weeks ago i had to go to hospital with severe anxiety and panick attack ( which i didnt know at the time ) ive been back 3 times since and been to gp had bloods took chest x rays ecgs and eveything is fine..although i have almost constant anxiety now,physical not mental as im am happy in life apart from the physical effects of this and the question of will i ever feel better...the doc has gave me beta blockers but i feel no different.. should i start smoking again.. in such a bad place right now and never expected this to happen 2 me as i am a happy person normally.. ps was a 9year smoker of both... any1 experienced this and how long will it last.any help muchly appreciated
1845558 tn?1318950603
I've smoked for a long time and am trying to quit myself.I have several panic disorders and I think smoking effects your body in that way the longer you smoke.I also have chronic back pain thrown in for good measure.My doc put me on the standard opiates and xanax.And let's just say hell began for me.But to make a long story less long..I had to pick the lesser of 2 hells..I chose to give up opiates rather than having panic attacks for the rest of my life.At 0.5mg..I'd toss them since you ain't taking them anyway.Smoking is a hard habit to break and the ONLY way to stop is to never start.I wish you all the best baby.
Avatar universal
I've literally quit around about 10 weeks now and am still getting intermittent panic mode. I initially gave up early January by using Nicotine Patches for around 10 days, but then decided that I had lost the hand-to-mouth association so decided that I could drop those and go cold turkey.

It was my 30th Birthday early Feb and I had taken the week off of work to chill out and simply enjoy some downtime, but then ended up rushing myself to hospital because I was getting heart palpitations, chest pains, hot and cold flushes and dizziness. I went down and waited 4 hours to not be seen by anyone, but by this time it was midnight and I was feeling a little more stable, so just got up and went home to try and sleep it off. I got little spins and such here and there over the passing weeks and finally felt like it was subsiding, but then it kicked back off the other day when I was in my home recording studio (where my first attack came at me) so now I am looking around these forums, still completely off the cigarettes and without any drugs and I feel better just for reading all of your words. The power of the mind over the body is quite incredible, but I am sure I can get through this, as can you all!

Remember, Breath low and slow, drink LOTS of water and make sure you keep a little sugar in your system, (Don't OD on chocolate lol!) but you'll get there, even in the darkest feeling of this horrible response to quitting, I can see a pin-***** of light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll see you there!

Avatar universal
same exact thing. i smoked for 13yrs pack a day. quit cold turkey 2wks ago and have been to the ER 3xs with constricted throat and thinking i was suffocating. It has been terrifying and ive never experienced anything like it before.  im so worn out from not feeling well that i dont know whether to cry or scream.  im going to an EarNoseThroat specialist in a couple weeks and I am eager to see what they find because i am clueless. Idk if it's allergies, panic attacks, or something wrong with my esophagus etc. it makes me feel better to see that im not alone, some days are better that others and im just hanging in there hoping ill feel like myself again. good luck to everyone going through this!
Avatar universal
I quit smoking on June 10th, 2012 after being a pack-a-day smoker for the past 18 years.

Since I've quit, I've had several short term spikes in blood pressure (highest was 185/118 for 15 minutes) and several episodes of heart palpitations that lasted for a few hours each.  I've had three trips to the ER to deal with the above in the past two months.  Before I quit smoking, I'd never been to an ER.

All these issues serve to remind me how hard a habit it is to break, and will give me motivation to never have another cigarette again.
Avatar universal
The other day I was at the gym, must have gone a little too hard and felt light headed and felt as though I was going to pass out. My heart was pounding and I was really worried about it. The following morning as I was dropping my girlfriend off at work I felt this "disconnectedness" from my body (sounds strange I know) and was further worried. Got back home and ended up having a full panic attack believing something was seriously wrong and I was going to die I went to the ER. Doctors at the ER didnt do much for me so I ended up going to see a GP instead and was prescribed diazepam and referred to a psych.

Psych taught some breathing techniques which really isn't my thing. Have symptoms of: tingly skin/hot flushes, racing heart, feeling tense, nausea.
Quit smoking (almost 10 years) the day I had the panic attack and not sure if its connected to my attacks. The worst feeling is will I ever be myself again. I'm now experiencing these constant feelings as described above. Has anyone successfully gotten over this. Reading your posts gives me a sense a calm knowing that I am not alone in this. I'm a normal guy with no history of mental illness and this experience has been very terrifying for me.

The worst thing is that I've been having the panic attacks in my sleep which wake me up. Does anyone else experience this?
Avatar universal
This is encouraging. I quit with my boyfriend on 9/16. I've been an off and on smoker for 15 years and a pretty hard core dipper for 5. He's smoked a pack a day for 15. We spent two weeks camped out in the woods cold turkey and had little trouble during that time. SInce being back in the real world, I have been suffering some pretty intense panic attacks. I've never been diagnosed with a mental disorder, but have always suffered from these to a degree. I typically self-medicate with nicotine and alcohol. I am also abstaining from alcohol for awhile in order to quit smoking, so without these crutches, I have apparently exacerbated whatever anxiety condition I have. In addition to an increase in frequency and intensity of attacks, I have been in a pretty constant state of less intense panic. My chest is always tight and I have to constantly concentrate to breathe correctly. Exercise has been necessary and helpful, but I have been worried that I have completely lost it and won't ever go back to normal! Reading the above comments in this thread are reassuring to me.
Avatar universal
I am a 30 y/o male and I have been suffering these same symptoms most of my life. The thing that helps me the most is knowing that it is just a panic attack, it's fairly common and will go away. When I get one I do deep breathing and tell my self that. I wouldn't write off the deep breathing, it has a physiological effect that calms you down. I can get the attack to go away in a matter of minutes like that. I have called ems in the past because I thought I was having a heart attack. I also take 50 mg zoloft which seems to help. Panic attacks do seriously suck and are the most uncomfortable feeling in the world.
5728006 tn?1373191458
Hi all, I am 38 yr old female. 20 some odd yr smoker, whose quit I wont lie and say I don't have anger issues sometimes. However, I have had anxiety for a long time, even when I smoked. and that anxiety and anger led me back to smoking every time. For example, last time i quit i went off on family members adn told them what I really thought lol. Guess it's good to be outspoken sometimes when certain things need to STOP. But yea lol. ANY who. I find that deep breathing really helps and crying out to God. Just give it to him. Become a Christian if you aren't. Because without God, there's no point  in this life at all. He's coming soon. To pass time, and try to calm anxiety, I make videos. I take songs i like, take some pics and even some sample pics from other videos, and just make them. I try to run. However I can't run like before because of my back probs, but go outside, and just run your you know what off if your having anxiety. and just pretend your running to Jesus :D. I'm not saying God's just gonna take it all away. But gr adually getting in the word and getting to know him, will gradually change you. My next step is walking into a church, and doing an altar call. I know that I believe I am saved, but i hear this little voice in the back of my head, saying Prove it. Then every time I feel that voice, I picture me walking up to the altar in front of thousands of people. That's always been my biggest fear. It's like he's saying, go up there, and i'll "set you free-er then before" So thinking about that, and knowing they'll be everyone aroudn watching, i keep debating and putting it off. But i know it's time, to take that step, and walk out of my old life and into the new. I've done it before. I was sitting in church (which I don't go to often because im always backsliding) and he said to me in my heart, go out to the car, grab those smokes and bring them right to the cross up there behind the altar. I was like oh heck no, I am not goign to do that!!! The pastor is preaching, then he asked, are you sick of being sick and tired? Are you sick of being angry and addict? SO i ran out to my car, go tthem, smoked all teh way to the door, puff puff puff, had to get that last puff in lol. Then as soon as i got all the way to the door, I felt him say to my heart, no no no, turn that little butt around and go get that  pint of canadian mist you got behind your seat too, and while your at it grab that CD of that crappy music. I was like oh come on! So i did, I walked in, and felt so stupid, i walked past thousands of people (this church is HUGE but that day all the seats were filled). I walked up there, and set it all up there, the pastor was just preaching, or singing i dont remember all i know is he said "Can i get an Hallelujah!!!" God has told this woman to  drop her burdens and let down her chains and follow me, God has spoke to her heart tonight!! right, so I was like ok maybe God really was that voice talking to my heart. When I walked away that night. I walked so free and so joyful and so happy, and so full of the spirit and so much more pleasant, it was amazing. Then I slipped again a couple years later when my husband started the cheating crap. I got even worse into drinking on weekends, and smoking. And guess what, the spirit left me. Now I'm working on getting it back. Because i know he's coming soon. But its like its gone. I can't feel it, all i feel is anger anymore and anxiety. But I am going to keep pushing forward in his word, and    once again, I'll have to do that altar call he is once calling me to do again. He has called me to make videos to help others spread the Love of Jesus on youtube. I'm learning it. and eventually I hope to be able to start making my own animated photos. Going to get a program that does it. However i do use praise and worship music. and there are only a few that I used singing with my own voice, But I'm not so sure I've posted those i think i deleted one or two of them. There's 2 videos I don't think I made. But most of them I did make. So let your past go, let the fears go, let the hurts all go, and whether you realize it or not, the devil has been on the attack since 2000 began, and we are in the years of tribulation as we speak i believe. So he is going to try to attack us even more and  more, and if we don't have Jesus, it wont get any better. Love all, Shelly, also I am bi polar. I am no far by perfect, and right now, As we speak, I just quit smoking again. But God is calling me, slowly and gently, to do the altar call and then keep making videos, (even if i have to copy pics for now) and eventually start finding a way to leave little bibles random places.. He knows I'm shy and I dont go around bugging people :) I'm not selling or promoting my channel, it's just even my own videos have really helped me to calm down. TRUST ME, give it a chance and JUST BELIEVE. Their not the best videos, But they are so wonderful in helping my stress. and to help me cry it all out, and release all that stress, Trust me you want to watch them alone :) unless your not afraid to cry.
wow love what you wrote i would love to watch the video but its not letting me download it your words touch me
Avatar universal
I quit smoking 1 month ago today & I hav had similar symptoms. My PCP put me on Xanax as well & I hav ben taking them as I need them but I feel just flat out terrible all the time. I can't sleep & I don't feel like doing nornal evryday activities or thngs that I used to enjoy. I am a very outdoorsy type of person & hiking or kayaking either 1 sends me n2 sheer panic mode. I tried paxil which I use to take n 03 but got off of it becuz I didn't need it anymor but the heart palpitaions & tingling of my lips made me stop taking it agn. I seem to freak out ovr evrythng & I'm shaky & jittery all the time. I also get sick to my stonach wen these "episodes" come about. I feel worse since iv quit than wen I smoked. I no longer hav a desire to smoke but I'm beginning to wonder if I can handle the anxiety much longer. Is ther any home remedies &/or tactics to help w/ this???
Avatar universal
I also have had the feeling my throat was constricted after quitting smoking, It has paralyzed me fear. I went to the ENT and he told me I had thrush do to my asthma medications and he was not concerned it was anything serious
Avatar universal
I too had thrush due to my Advair. I gargled Milk of Magnesia, 1 tablespoon diluted with the same amount of water. It helped within 24 hours. I gargled 2 or 3 times a day for a total of three days and the thrush was gone. The thrush made me feel like I had a lump and constriction in my throat. Best of luck to us all.
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