Smoking affects the neurotransmitters associated with anxiety and the state of wellness. Smokers have significantly higher rates of clinical anxiety compared to non-smokers. This may be explained through tobacco’s effect on GABA, the neurotransmitter most responsible for the state of wellness and a lack of anxiety.
In the September 2007 issue of “BMC Neuroscience,” Dr. Tamaki Hayase found that nicotine significantly increased anxiety related behaviour and symptoms, even 2 hours after the last exposure. 1 In addition, in the June 2007 issue of the “Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research,” Dr. Janet Audrain and associates found that anxiety was significantly correlated to nicotine intake. 2
Smoking can also have a serious negative impact on cognitive abilities, especially with long-term smokers. Nicotine and the hundreds of additives in cigarettes directly affect the neurotransmitters associated with learning, memory and cognition. Long term smokers are at a particular risk for developing dementia as they get older. In the August 2007 issue of “Neuropsychology Review,” Dr. Gary Swan and associates found that smoking was significantly associated with brain matter degeneration and cellular death, cognitive decline and dementia. 2
“Another study suggests a direct link between smoking and brain damage. Scientists have found that a compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage.” Debapriya Ghosh and Dr Anirban Basu from the Indian National Brain Research Center (NBRC). 3
Nicotine and other tobacco additives have a direct negative impact on dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters associated with depression and mental health. In the June 23, 2009 issue of “Nicotine & Tobacco Research,” Dr. Michael Lyons and associates found that major depression was significantly associated with smoking. Some of the accompanying depressive symptoms were nervousness, restlessness and difficulty concentrating. 2
We all deal with stress on a daily basis, from children, partners, bosses all placing demands on your time, then there is financial pressure, relationship issues both at home at work and socially. To add to this, we now have a constant stream of emails, phone calls, texting all placing demands on our time and energy.
Smokers are much more stressed than non-smokers; they’ve forgotten how to relax without a cigarette. So, in all stressful situations they are easily irritated, they have a very short fuse.
In stressful situations a smoker will often chain smoke to keep the anxiety down by trying to relax with a smoke.
Smokers tend to huddle together at social events, this is their comfort zone. They tend to think that non-smokers are self-righteous and boring. They are no more self-righteous than smokers are; they are totally unaware of the stress the smoker is under due to their internal stress. The smoker is struggling to even follow the conversation as they are focused on finding a way to escape to have a smoke. They can’t really even enjoy a social event.
When are the most common times that you smoke?
Most smokers smoke to relieve stress or boredom or enhance concentration, yet in reality it does none of those things, this is all part of the illusion. When you are bored your mind is not occupied and you become more aware of the internal stress. Cigarettes damage your nerves, not relax them. Smokers often believe that smoking gives them courage when in fact it weakens your courage and fills you with fear.
Smokers have to work hard initially to overcome their natural response to reject this distasteful toxin when first starting to smoke. Committed smokers will continue to smoke even when they are sick with the flu and even struggling to breathe with emphysema or lung cancer.
It only takes about 3 weeks for 99% of the nicotine to leave your system and the withdrawal pangs from the chemical are relatively mild. The greatest difficulty with giving up is freeing ourselves from the brainwashing and illusions that we have about smoking, the emotional dependence and subconscious programming that we are not even aware is there.
We actually stop smoking every night when we go to sleep; we have around 10 hours without any cravings, withdrawals or suffering. Many don’t even light up their first smoke until after breakfast and on their way to work. Yet if we attempted to go for 10 hours throughout the day without a smoke, we would be climbing the walls. We can even go into shopping centres and not smoke for many hours. This demonstrates that the emotional dependence on smoking is stronger than any nicotine addiction.