Smokers deterred from quitting due to anxiety misconceptions

Researchers have discovered that smoking cessation decreases anxiety, but that many smokers are deterred from quitting as they experience 'edgy' nicotine withdrawal symptoms, bjp.rcpsych.org reports.

Giving up smoking is not only advisable from a physical health perspective, but new research suggests it can improve mental health, too. A study carried out by researchers from several British universities has discovered the long-held belief that smoking can alleviate stress is incorrect.

Researchers followed 491 smokers as they attended NHS smoking cessation classes; continuing for six months afterwards. They discovered that of the 68 people who had successfully stopped, anxiety levels were 'significantly' decreased.

They also found that one in five people smoke to reduce stress and many believed that giving up would make them more anxious. In actual fact, edginess is a known withdrawal symptom associated with nicotine and it is this confuses people.

Naturally, anxiety levels among those who had tried to give up, but failed, were raised - creating mental barriers can reduce the chances of cessation. Such people might benefit from a psychotherapy course, where an expert can help individuals to break down barriers and kick the habit.

It is hoped, bbc.co.uk writes, that the overall findings will encourage smokers to give up, confident that their long-term anxiety levels will actually be improved.