Smoking And Panic Disorder Healthcentral.com printed an article citing smoking as a cause of panic attacks. In this article, Reuters Health states that daily smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience a panic attack for the first time. Panic attacks may include all or some of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and chest pain. Quitting smoking appears to somewhat reduce the risk of panic attacks. Each year, one third of adults have at least one panic attack.
In addition, smoking has also been linked to depression, which can definitely cause a person to become easily frustrated and overwhelmed, possibly causing these unfortunate panic attacks to occur. The first survey was taken of 1,007 people aged 21-30 who are members of a Michigan HMO group. The other survey took a national sample of 4,411 people aged 15-54 years old. In both groups, daily smokers were much more likely to have experienced a first occurrence of a panic attack. In the HMO group, daily smokers had three times the risk of nonsmokers of having panic attacks. In the national sample, smokers risk of the attacks was twice that of nonsmokers.
Additionally, quitting smoking lowered the risk of panic attacks. The article states that the original experiment does not explain how smoking might lead to panic attacks, but smokings effect on the lungs might be to blame. There are other explanations for the relationship. Smokers who develop respiratory problems, even mild ones, which affect breathing might get a false sensation that they are suffocating. This might lead to a panic attack. Additionally, the effect of nicotine on the brain may also provide an explanation for these findings.