We often hear from people that they are better off not making a tobacco quit attempt because they are depressed, anxious, or too stressed and they fear that these problems will worsen if they stop using tobacco. These challenges can certainly make it difficult to consider stopping, and often the reinforcement from nicotine is paired with natural and effective coping skills like taking a breath, stepping away from a situation, or taking time to think things through. The good news is that for many people, stopping tobacco will usually result in improved mood, and lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
A number of studies have now found that within 2 weeks of stopping tobacco stress, anxiety, and depression all improve. And, the total effect from stopping smoking is comparable to the effect shown in studies of people who begin antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. Contrary to what many people believe, stopping smoking may help improve their mental health in addition to being the single best thing they can do to improve their physical health.
There is an important caveat. Depression and anxiety are relatively common nicotine withdrawal symptoms. So, withdrawal can mask the improvements in mood that happen after stopping tobacco. This is one reason that a nicotine replacement therapy (nrt) can help people quit, it effectively reduces the withdrawal symptoms like irritation, anxiety, depression and stress.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences with quitting, anxiety, depression, and stress?