As vaping gains popularity, so do concerns about its effects on mental health. Among these concerns is the question of whether vaping can trigger or exacerbate anxiety.

So, does vaping cause anxiety, or is this just a myth surrounding vaping culture? In this blog post, we’ll go through the latest research findings and expert insights to shed light on the relationship between vaping and anxiety.

Does Vaping Cause Anxiety?

Yes, vaping can cause anxiety. Some studies suggest a connection between vaping and anxiety, with many people reporting heightened levels of anxiety after vaping, affecting both non-nicotine and nicotine-only vapers.

A study by the American Heart Association discovered a correlation between vaping nicotine and THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana) and self-reported instances of depression and anxiety symptoms.

Approximately 70% of individuals who exclusively vaped THC, 60% who exclusively vaped nicotine, and those who engaged in both reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety, including worries, flashbacks, panic attacks, and situational anxieties. In contrast, only about 40% of participants who had never vaped reported similar symptoms.

But what about vapers with nicotine-free products? Multiple studies agree that vaping without nicotine can also cause anxiety. As pointed out by the CDC, vape aerosol may contain hazardous substances beyond nicotine, such as diacetyl, which is associated with lung disease, heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead, and various volatile organic compounds.

Also, a study by the Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Journal found that nicotine-free vapor inhalation has anxiogenic-like effects, which is concerning because many adolescents vape nicotine-free flavored e-liquid

Why Does Vaping Cause Anxiety?

While vaping may not directly cause anxiety for some individuals (some wrongly use it as a way to find relief from anxiety), it can indeed contribute to anxiety in others due to these reasons:

  1. Nicotine Addiction: Most vaping liquids contain nicotine, which is a psychoactive substance that can stimulate the release of dopamine and adrenaline in the brain. While these neurotransmitters can initially produce feelings of pleasure and alertness, they also contribute to anxiety and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Withdrawal: Regular vaping can lead to nicotine dependence, and when individuals go without vaping for a period of time, they may experience the effects of nicotine withdrawal including anxiety, irritability, and restlessness.
  3. Psychological Factors: For some individuals, the act of vaping may become associated with stress relief or relaxation. However, reliance on vaping as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety can lead to increased dependence and worsen overall anxiety levels.
  4. Social Factors: Peer pressure and social media influences can also contribute to anxiety related to vaping, especially among young people. Concerns about fitting in or being perceived as “cool” by friends may lead people to engage in vaping even if they are uncomfortable or anxious about its effects.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety Induced by Vaping

Anxiety induced by vaping can manifest in different ways, and symptoms may vary from person to person, but these are the most common ones:

  • Increased Heart Rate: Vaping can lead to the inhalation of substances like nicotine, which can stimulate the cardiovascular system, causing an increased heart rate. For people sensitive to these substances, this heightened heart rate can trigger feelings of anxiety or exacerbate existing anxiety symptoms.
  • Difficulty Breathing: After vaping, some people may experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. This can occur due to irritation of the airways or lung inflammation caused by the chemicals present in vaping products.
  • Nervousness or Restlessness: Anxiety induced by vaping may also present as feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or agitation. Nicotine can increase alertness and arousal, which can potentially escalate into feelings of anxiety or contribute to existing anxiety disorders.

5 Tips to Deal with Vaping and Anxiety

Now that we understand vaping’s potential contribution to anxiety, it’s time to learn how to prevent it for good or effectively manage this anxiety.

1. Download an Anxiety App

Managing your anxiety while vaping by yourself is not easy, so Rootd is here to help. Rootd acts as your assistant to use when you start to feel anxiety, providing education, access to meditation techniques, and assistance in creating a routine that helps you overcome anxiety and vaping problems.

Anxiety apps offer calming exercises and techniques to help people cope with vaping-induced anxiety. With easy access to personalized support and tools, Rootd empower users to manage their anxiety effectively.

2. Reduce or Quit Vaping

We know it’s easier said than done, but 44.5% of vapers in the US have seriously considered it, and with the right tools, quitting vaping is possible. If you suspect that vaping is contributing to your anxiety, consider reducing or quitting altogether.

Gradually reducing your nicotine intake or quitting vaping entirely may help alleviate anxiety symptoms over time.

3. Explore Alternative Stress Relief Techniques

Since anxiety is often linked to stress, finding alternative stress relief techniques can be beneficial. This includes activities such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.

4. Engage in Healthy Distractions

Engaging in activities that you enjoy and find fulfilling can help distract your mind from anxious thoughts and reduce the urge to vape. Spend time with friends and loved ones, pursue hobbies or interests, or participate in activities that promote relaxation and well-being. Finding healthy distractions can help shift your focus away from vaping and alleviate feelings of anxiety.

5. Seek Professional Support

If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety on your own, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can provide you with coping strategies, behavioral techniques, and support to help you address your anxiety effectively. They can also assist you in developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Wrapping Up: Understanding the Links Between Vaping and Anxiety

While the relationship between vaping and anxiety is complex and multifaceted, it’s safe to say that vaping can indeed contribute to common anxiety symptoms.

As the discussion on vaping evolves, it’s crucial to understand techniques that can prevent vaping-related anxiety and eliminate it entirely, such as quitting vaping altogether or seeking assistance from an anxiety app.Ultimately, promoting awareness, education, and open dialogue about vaping and mental health is crucial in empowering people to make informed choices and seek support when needed.