Quitting Tobacco: Handling Anxiety Without Smoking Quitting Tobacco: Handling Anxiety Without Smoking
National Cancer Institute
What To Expect
You may feel quite tense and agitated within 24 hours of quitting.
You may feel a tightness in your muscles—especially around the neck and
These feelings will pass with time.
Did You Know?
Recent studies have found that most quitters report feelings of
increased anxiety within a week of quitting.
If anxiety occurs, it will usually begin within the first day, peak in
the first couple of weeks, and disappear within a month.
What To Do
Take a walk.
Take a hot bath.
Try a massage.
Try to take a few minutes out of your day to meditate, or do stretching
Set aside some quiet time every morning and evening—a time when you can
be alone in a quiet environment.
Nicotine and Your Mind and Body
Anxiety is usually measured as an increase in muscle tension as well as
an increased sensitivity to muscle tension. Laboratory research shows that
the anxiety produced from quitting tobacco may be due to temporary changes
in your brain chemistry. There is some evidence that tobacco use reduces
anxiety, so some of the anxiety you feel when you quit is actually what
nonsmokers normally experience.
Most of the anxiety you feel immediately after you quit is due to
Nicotine replacement products deliver small, steady
doses of nicotine into the body, and the nicotine helps to relieve the
symptoms often felt by people trying to quit smoking. Nicotine
replacement patches, gum, lozenges,
nasal spray, and inhaler appear to be equally effective. Buproprion
pills (which don’t contain nicotine) also help relieve withdrawal symptoms.
How To Get Help
If you or someone you know wants help with giving up tobacco, please
call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline toll-free at
1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848). The information specialists on the Quitline
can provide suggestions and support to help smokers break the habit.
The Federal Government’s Smokefree.gov Web site (http://www.smokefree.gov)
allows you to choose the help that best fits your needs. You can get
View an online step-by-step cessation guide.
Find state quitline telephone numbers.
Instant message an expert through NCI’s (https://cissecure.nci.nih.gov/livehelp/welcome.asp)
Download, print, or order publications about quitting smoking.