Using Antidepressants to Stop Smoking Can Be Deadly

quit smoking

Using Antidepressants to Stop Smoking Can Be Deadly

Many people that come to my San Diego  office for help to quit smoking with hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques tell me they have used prescription drugs to try to quit smoking.

While there is some evidence that for some people using antidepressants to quit smoking is effective the problem is there are many adverse side effects that these drugs can cause.

Drugs Used for Smoking Cessation

There are two medicines (antidepressants) available in tablet form on a prescription-only basis that has FDA’s approval to be used as smoking cessation products. They are Chantix (varenicline tartrate) and Zyban (buproprion).


Chantix (whose chemical name is varenicline) acts at sites in the brain that are affected by nicotine. It eases withdrawal symptoms from nicotine and blocks the positive effects of nicotine from cigarettes if users resume smoking.


Bupropion (Zyban) was approved for use as a smoking cessation aid by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. It had been sold under the brand name Wellbutrin as an antidepressant before that.

Zyban has an interesting history.

Smokers who happened to be users of the anti-depression medication Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) often reported a lessening in the desire for cigarettes. The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, decided to do further testing and found the drug to be effective in helping smokers quit. GlaxoSmithKline then “repackaged” Wellbutrin and marketed it as the smoking-cessation drug Zyban.

Zyban helps patients to abstain from smoking; however, how it does this is unknown.


The antidepressant nortriptyline (Pamelor or Aventyl) is not FDA-approved for smoking cessation, but it, too, has shown results similar to bupropion in some studies.

Use Only Under a Doctor’s Supervision

These drugs are available only by prescription and because of a variety of potential side effects, if you decide to use them you’ll want to be sure to  only use them under a doctor’s close supervision.

Smoking and Your Emotional Brain

When you stop smoking it can cause feelings of depression. This has a lot to do with the idea that smoking is an emotional habit.  Over the years it has become your friend, your buddy and, as a result, can be hard to leave behind. It has actually affected your emotional brain.

Nicotine Addiction

Additionally, nicotine is an addictive substance that makes you feel good, so your body wants more of it.

Nicotine affects your brain by giving it an endorphin spike. These endorphins are the natural drugs responsible for making you feel good. As you cut down or cut off your nicotine input you don’t get the same emotional high that you did when you were smoking like you normally would.

By not having this endorphin release, your moods are going to swing and feelings of depression can start to occur. Antidepressants help you quit smoking because they stop that nicotine process.

Who Should Use Antidepressants to Quit Smoking?

Who should use these types of medications?

Antidepressants can work for people who have tried to quit cold turkey and haven’t been able to – and they’re also an alternative for people who have tried nicotine patches or other aids but weren’t able to quit smoking. This kind of medication works to help the brain’s chemistry feel good without the use of nicotine.

The Positive Side of Using Antidepressants

The plus side to using an antidepressant is that they don’t have the same strong addictive power that nicotine has, so you probably won’t become addicted to them. They gradually ease you through your withdrawal from nicotine so that you don’t have to suffer with the frustrating symptoms of anxiety and depression.

When you smoke, the nicotine levels don’t stay the same, so you experience periods of low mood, irritability and frustration when you can’t have a cigarette. Once you smoke a cigarette, your nicotine level is charged back up and your mood improves.

An antidepressant medication works to keep your mood level. You won’t get the highs and lows that you get with nicotine.

Using Antidepressants with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Since the products don’t have any nicotine in the ingredients, antidepressants can also be used together with NRT aids like the patch. This can be an effective method for some people who are using other smoking cessation aids and are still having trouble with withdrawal side effects.

The Problems with Using Antidepressants

In July 2009, FDA required both products to carry a boxed warning on their labeling for health care professionals. These cited serious risks including changes in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions for users taking these drugs.

Most Common Side Effects of Chantix

Side effects include nausea; constipation; gas; vomiting; and trouble sleeping or vivid, unusual, or strange dreams. The most serious side effects are convulsive fits, which affect approximately 1 person in 1000.

In addition to the warnings about changes in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions when taking this drug, the patient medication guide for Chantix cites other adverse affects and risks—including allergic reactions, serious skin reactions, and trouble driving or operating heavy machinery.

Suicide Attempts Caused by Chantix

According to a July 6, 2011 Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) email, through the 3rd quarter of 2010 the FDA had received a total of 36,342 U.S. reports of adverse events among varenicline users. Among them were “272 cases of completed suicide, 323 cases of suicide attempt and 63 cases described as suicidal behavior.” ISMP noted previously identifying 408 cases of violence, which were defined as homicide, assault, physical abuse, violence-related symptom and homicidal ideation.

Most Common Side Effects of Zyban

Side effects consistently associated with the use of Zyban are dry mouth and insomnia. In addition to warnings about the risks of serious psychiatric problems, the medication guide for Zyban cites other adverse events and risks related to this product, including seizures, high blood pressure, and allergic reactions.

Should I Use Antidepressants to Quit Smoking?

When smokers call me and ask “How do I stop smoking?” I do not recommend using antidepressants. That’s because advanced hypnotherapy (hypnosis) and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) has been shown to be a much more reliable and safe method to help smokers quit smoking.


Related Article

Click here to Read

Using Neuro Linguistic Programming Techniques for Changing Beliefs


Interested in Using Hypnosis and NLP for Changing Habits?

Would You Like to Find Out More About Quit Smoking Hypnosis and NLP?

If you would like to quit smoking then download “8 Quit Smoking Secrets”. This FREE report will give you an apples to apples comparison of all the stop smoking methods available to you so you can make a decision on which quit smoking method will best work for you.

Just fill out the form below to get your FREE copy of “8 Quit Smoking Secrets”…

Get Your FREE Quit Smoking Info

We respect your email privacy

Email Marketing by AWeber

Interested in Self Hypnosis to Quit Smoking?

Follow this link to find out more about self hypnosis to stop smoking now…

About the Author

Wil Dieck is America’s #1 Mental Fitness Coach©. He is also the founder of Total Mind Therapy©, a system that uses Neuro Emotional Conditioning (NEC)©.

NEC is a system that uses the best of three highly effective processes, Advanced Hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques (NLP) and meditative breathing techniques from Qigong, a Chinese Martial Art, and combines them into one powerful system that you can use to alter your thinking patterns that allow you to make quick and lasting shifts in your behavior and, as a result, quit smoking cigarettes.

Wil is a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner (NLP) hypnotherapist and Qigong Practitioner. His office is located in San Diego, CA.

He has taught hundreds of people in individual and business settings how to use Neuro Emotional Conditioning (NEC)© techniques to stop smoking cigarettes now.

Wil is available for individual coaching sessions and group presentations for using NEC or hypnosis and Neuro Linguistic Programming as well as using meditation techniques from Qigong to help you stop smoking now.

If you are interested in learning more about using Neuro Emotional Conditioning (NEC)© techniques to stop smoking, then call (619) 293-3255 for your complimentary personalized assessment and action plan.

In this session we’ll discuss the goals you wish to achieve and you’ll go away with an action plan packed with information on how to achieve those goals.