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 smoking’s 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.