Study: Psychological Effects of Chantix No Higher than that of a Nicotine Patch

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in chantix

Dr. Howell

Based on the two large-scale studies sponsored by the DFA, smokers trying to quit using Chantix or varenicline are no more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric symptoms than those who use nicotine patches.

This doesn’t mean however, that smokers should pay less attention to the potential side effects of Chantix and disregard any symptom they may experience. The drug may still cause mood changes, agitation and hostility tendencies, and in worst cases, suicidal thoughts.

Side Effects of Chantix NO higher than that of Nicotine Patch


When the drug was approved in 2006, reports concerning the radical side effects of Chantix were published. However, there were little scientific studies conducted to prove the claim. Until now, scientists are still not sure what specific compound in Chantix is responsible for the psychological effects. Nevertheless, studies show that Chantix is more effective in helping smokers quit than the placebo smoking cessation methods, for up to one year.

The drug works by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain, reducing dependency and alleviating the sense of “pleasure” and “enjoyment” that a smoker feels when he puffs.


Neither of the two major studies published in 2011 by the FDA found any difference between the psychological risks of using nicotine patches and taking Chantix. The first study involved 14,000 users of nicotine patch and another 14,000 Chantix users. The researchers compared the prevalence of psychiatric hospitalization between the two groups, with emphasis on mental disorder, schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendency, and mood and behavioral disorder. They found no difference between the two groups within 30 days from the date the treatment began.

The second study, which was carried out with the help of Department of Health, involved 16,000 smokers who used nicotine patches and 20,000 smokers who took Chantix to quit. The participants were composed of active military personnel, retirees and dependents. Same with the first study, the researchers didn’t see any significant difference between the prevalence of neuropsychiatric events between Chantix users and nicotine patch users.


Although the DFA only focused on the psychiatric hospitalizations, this factor could tell whether the medications being used pose adverse effects on the users.

Safety Concerns

Their findings give better enlightenment regarding the safety of Chantix. For many years, smokers trying to quit had second thoughts with the drug, believing that it may trigger the onset of mental disorders and suicide attempts. But it turns out, that the effects of Chantix are no more harmful than the effects of nicotine patch – the most common smoking cessation treatment these days.

However, people trying to quit smoking today using Chantix should first seek medical advice to avoid the possibility of psychiatric hospitalization. Those who have history of clinical depression and other mental or behavioral disorders are discouraged from taking the drug without proper guidance from a doctor. Also, those who have existing medical conditions are taking medications or undergoing treatments must consult their doctor first.

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