Chantix and depression on stopping smoking.

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Yesterday I saw a couple of newspaper reports on the potential link between Chantix and psychiatric side effects, including discussion of some of the stories reported by people on this blog.
http://www.nj.com/starledger/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-13/1203831450252170.xml&coll=1

I’ve written before about risks for depression on stopping smoking and we have also talked about psychiatric symptoms occurring while using Chantix. Right now we really don’t know whether these symptoms of depression are directly caused by Chantix, by stopping smoking or by other things but have captured the headlines because over 5 million people have used Chantix in a short space of time. One thing that is clear is that serious psychiatric side effects are rare while using Chantix – probably somewhere between 1% and one per thousand. So it is important to keep the risks in perspective and to bare in mind that right now we are not absolutely sure that Chantix has caused these serious adverse events. Its also important to bare in mind that continued smoking has 50% chance of killing you, and a virtual certainty that it will cause you to suffer non-fatal illnesses that affect your life.

But I’ve been contacted by a number of people who reported that their mood was fine before they started taking Chantix and they became uncharacteristically short tempered and depressed while on it. One particular question that I’ve been asked is how long do these feelings last for? We’ve discussed before how the mood disturbance on stopping smoking typically peaks in the first week and has largely resolved by the fourth week in smokers quitting without taking any medication, but of course that’s the average and there can be big differences between individuals.

So I’d really appreciate it if readers who quit smoking for a period of time could write in and comment on what kind of effect it had on their mood, and the time course of any mood disturbance (i.e. how long after stopping smoking was it at its worst, and how long before it was OK again). Please comment on whether or not you used any medicine (including NRT) at the time and whether you thought the medicine helped or made the mood disturbance worse. I think it may be helpful for those who have experienced mood swings while quitting smoking to hear the experiences of others.
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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