Panic attacks and anxiety disorders are some of the psychological illnesses caused by smoking.

The physical health consequences of regular consumption of snuff are widely known to everyone thanks to the many campaigns launched in recent years. However, very little is known about its psychological consequences, which can range from an increase in anxiety levels, to the transformation into panic attacks, anxiety disorders generalized social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder or panic disorder with or without agoraphobia.


Cristina Mae Wood, Antonio Cano-Vindel and Itziar Iruarrizaga, Complutense University of Madrid, in collaboration with Hope Dongil, Catholic University of Valencia, in 2009 conducted a thorough review of existing scientific literature on the relationship between smoking and suffer from anxiety. We review some of the data and conclusions that appear in the dossier, published in issue 3 of volume 18, issue of psychosocial interventions.

Mental illness and snuff consumption are related

It is a fact for over a decade that smoking usually maintains some kind of relationship with mental illness. Simply browse the statistics: the percentage of smokers diagnosed with some kind of psychological disorder is twice that of the general population. Not only that, within the category of smokers, those with mental illness consume more cigarettes than psychologically healthy.

Among the most common diseases among smokers, we found the substance use disorder. More than half of smokers have, in particular, over 30% suffer the type of alcohol use disorder. They also highlight the mood disorders like depression, followed by personality, as the Paranoid or the histrionic personality, To name a few. Regarding anxiety disorders, which are before us, affect more than 25% of the smoking population.

Does it arise psychological distress as a result of smoking, or smoked as a result of suffering a psychological disorder?

According to a study by Kesser in 2004 and rescued in the dossier prepared by Cristina Mae Wood, Antonio Cano-Vindel, Itziar Dongil Iruarrizaga and Hope, the order of onset of mental disorders and smoking, when both coexist, indicating that addiction would occur as a result of the disease, and not vice versa. And, while mental disorders begin to occur at a mean age of 11 years, the abuse of any substance would begin at age 21.

However, as explained by the authors of the dossier, each day more numerous studies confirming the opposite, namely, that smoking causes and maintains certain anxiety disorders, especially panic. Thus, a study with 688 adolescents found that smoking more than 20 cigarettes daily during adolescence significantly increases the risk of mental disorders related to anxiety in a period between two and eight years later.

Daily smoking increases the risk of panic attacks

According to the researchers Breslay and Klein (1999), daily smoking has 4 times the risk of panic attacks in an isolated or sporadic, and the risk of having 13 panic disorder, ie suffering from recurrent to an absence of external stimuli to justify it. The same study found that when subjects quit, The probability of renewed panic attacks decreased to the same level as the general population. That is, the only difference would explain why a group of people suffering more panic attacks than another, is that the first group is composed of smokers.

In conclusion, depending on several factors, among which is the amount of nicotine delivered to the body, smoking can produce an anxiolytic and antidepressant, which would explain its use to alleviate the discomfort that arises from having a psychological problem, or increase anxiety levels significantly.
As the daily dose of nicotine increases anxiogenic effects also increase to the point of increasing the risk of causing panic attacks and can cause more serious conditions and maintain established psychiatrically.