a closeup of a man smoking a dangling cigarette

Q. The story about the person who became depressed on Chantix caught my eye. My husband and I were both on Chantix to quit smoking back in June. Neither of us has a history of depression, but after he was on it he tried (with no warning) to take his own life.

I tell everyone thinking about taking Chantix to make sure they talk to the doctor about ALL of the possible side effects. In rare instances, suicidal ideation and psychotic episodes may happen. That is stated in the prescribing information, which also says that depression and anxiety are frequent side effects.

A. Chantix (varenicline) is a relatively new oral prescription medicine to help people quit smoking. Separating drug side effects from nicotine withdrawal can be tricky.

When people quit smoking it is not unusual to feel angry and irritable. Other symptoms may include anxiety, depression, impatience, and problems concentrating.

Some readers have noted similar experiences to yours, though. One person reported:

“Two weeks after being on Chantix my emotions have been off the scale: from crying to yelling to feeling totally helpless. I have, twice before, quit smoking cold turkey and NEVER felt so depressed.

“After 48 hours without Chantix I am full of energy and ready to fulfill my responsibilities. I think, for me, that the depression must be a side effect and not just the nicotine withdrawal, based on my cold-turkey experiences.”

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  1. Andro
    Seattle
    Reply

    Chantix working for me. I started taking the medication for obvious reason quitting smoking. I do experience nausea and headaches throughout the day, everyday day since I started taking this medicine. I am on day 15 I believe. I have been smoking way less, last week I was down to 5 and under per day, yesterday was supposed to be my quit day but I gave in and smoked 3 due to stress. Today I have not had a smoke I am 2 hours away from a full day. I am done and I will continue to be done. I will however keep taking Chantix for at least 2 more weeks. Being on Chantix sucks but you have to realize what you are taking it for. If you want to stop smoking you have to stop smoking after 10 days on Chantix. Like I said I feel sick on a daily basis on Chantix but it does remove my cravings, doesn’t even make me think about smoking. You just have to pick a day to quit and commit to it. And understand why you are taking Chantix. If you can’t stop after 3 weeks and you constantly fell sick I would get off Chantix and re think your quitting strategy.

  2. Cathy
    Pennsylvania
    Reply

    I took chantix and broke out with a horrible rash all over my body ..the rash lasted 5 weeks and I was shedding like a snake..the rash is called erythema multiforme. User beware…

  3. Kelly
    Oregon
    Reply

    I’ve been on chantix for 5 days now I’ve had severe anxiety and a horrible heavy chest feeling and a constant feeling of something stuck in my throat. My husband has had horrible anxiety also. I think chantix is not for us we so want to stop smoking for are kids but the side affects are just not worth it. We are just going to try to stop smoking the old regular way.

  4. Jan
    NY
    Reply

    Anyone had any problems with blood sugar while on Chantix, I see it can cause pancreatitis so maybe there is a correlation?

    • Trish
      USA
      Reply

      yes Dr says there is no correlation.

    • Marie oconnor
      Mpls
      Reply

      My daughter and myself tried Chantix after she had a stroke. Well it didn’t go well. Five days of taking it, we couldn’t even talk to each other anger was the least of our problems. I couldn’t make sence in the change of both of us. I did some research and found out that Chantix may cause depression and homicidal thoughts. I called her and we both threw it away. Yes smoking is not good for us but drug companies need to make safe medications for human consumption.

  5. Lou
    Saskatchewan
    Reply

    Chantix gave me severe pain in my left side under my ribs. After quitting chantix it took almost a year for the pain to leave. Tried taking a couple years later and within a couple weeks the pain was back.

  6. Chrystal
    Reply

    Chantix messes with more of your brain than just addiction sensors.

  7. Chrystal
    MO
    Reply

    I took Chantix for two month the first time. I dealt with the nausea and confusion for as long as I could and thought I was officially a non-smoker. Well I was wrong. Two weeks after quitting Chantix my cravings came back ten fold. Almost like I was craving as many cancer sticks that I had skipped while on Chantix. don’t get me wrong. While on it I had zero desire to smoke.

    A few months after relapsing I figured I was in a better place in life to give it one more shot.

    I started taking it and two weeks into it my anxiety turned into panic attacks. I haven’t had a panic attack in over ten years so it was scary. Also while driving through town on routes I knew like the back my hand.. on simple missions like to pick up TP and what not – I would suddenly not know where I was. like waking up from a dream…. and driving. I knew I was driving but had to suddenly grab for the phone and turn on maps to see what part of town I was in even though I was on a main road I drove daily.

    Now that I quit chantix the second time I find that my memory has diminished. I am 30 and I feel like my mind is that of a 70- 80. I am exhausted always and I forget 80% of EVERYTHING. thank you Chantix. thanx alot. oh by the way I am still a smoker : (

  8. Diona
    Reply

    I did experience nausea when I took the Chantix on empty stomach. Take with food!

  9. Diona
    WA
    Reply

    I think if I would have read these side effects people have experienced taking Chantix, it would have scared me and I would have never taken Chantix.
    I took Chantix for 2 months. After the first 2 wks. taking it, I noticed I didn’t think about having a cigarette as often. By week 4, I no longer had desire to have cigarette. It was great no desire at all to smoke, I also had the best vivid dreams while taking Chantix. Everybody has different body chemistry I guess and you have to find what works for your body. Chantix worked for me and I really miss having those vivid dreams…

    • Renee
      New Jersey
      Reply

      I agree 100%. I had the same vivid dreams and they were amazing. That was the only side effect I had with taking the medication. I took it in 2006 to quit smoking and I had to take it for 5 1/2 months before I felt comfortable enough to not have the mediation as a crutch. I didn’t smoke for almost 8 years and I picked up a cigarette that was my brand and it felt like I had never quit, I have now been on Chantix for the last 8 months because I slip and smoke sometimes because my boyfriend still smokes occasionally. But Chantix has been amazing for me.

  10. Jasmine
    Bronx, NY
    Reply

    I’m on my second day of chantix, still smoking but not as much. I feel very tired and have ridiculous headaches…. I am extra cranky but I figure its the headache. Is this normal? Or are the side effects going to get worse? I just want to quit smoking for my kids before it’s too late. I’m only 31 and my kids definitely need me. ANy advice??

    • Mike
      California
      Reply

      Most likely not. Im on my third week. No energy. Still take a few puffs each day. Bad taste in my mouth. I seem to be very angry, depressed,

    • Velma
      IL
      Reply

      I was very successful with Chantix the first time around, I just had to remember to take it on a full stomach but the dreams were so vivid that I looked forward to going to sleep each night. Well I relapsed some year ago and just started taking Chantix the past few weeks. This time it affected me different, all of a sudden I was tired…like all day! I felt like a constant eye strain and when I got home I just didn’t have any energy. Well after reading about the “rare” severe side-effects of Chantix, I decided to stop taking it. I already have high blood pressure and I don’t want the risk of a heart attack or some other severe reaction. I’m hoping to just try cold turkey and see if that helps….wish me luck!

  11. Isabella
    FLORIDA
    Reply

    Chantix feels like a break it or make it deal. I would never ever take it and I would strongly suggest against it to anyone and everyone due to the very “rare” side effects (not that “rare”, look them up). How this drug is still being sold while linked to numerous deaths, suicides, etc, is beyond me. I saw it firsthand what it did to my best friend. She took it for a month and her life went in a downward spiral. She developed a severe form of psychosis where she would believe anyone and everyone was out to kill her. She drove across country “running” from a “stalker” who came to her house to kill her. We thought she had become schizophrenic. She believed “outside people” were hypnotizing her and they could put her in a “trance” just over the phone. She had plastic surgery on her nose and she truly believed her dr. “took all the bones” off her face, she would say he photoshop’d her and made her shorter, that she was gonna disappear. She would spend nights crying, in real pain, because of the “damage” the plastic surgeon “did” to her whole body. She lost her home, her daughter, she almost lost her nursing license (didn’t practice for years), she ended up getting admitted to a psych ward (it was a struggle to get her in) where she was court ordered and forced to take antipsychotic drugs. 4 years later, she’s slowly feeling like herself again and she can finally look back and know none of it was real. In her case, thankfully it did not take her life or anyone else’s as she was admitted but she got close to ruining everyone’s life around her with her very realistic claims (rape, malpractice, abuse, etc) as she truly believe them.

  12. Shellie
    Mi
    Reply

    Chantix can and does cause severe depression. I stopped pills the first time when it came out due to increased depression. This is my third time . This time I have serious night leg cramps and I’m not sure from this or other meds. But I have definetly slowed down my smoking. Hoping to quit this time for good.

  13. Kim
    Atlanta
    Reply

    Well, each time I have tried Chantix it has definitely helped me quit. Most recently was the 3rd time and besides the intial nausea it’s amazing how it helps me not think about a cigarette. However, after a couple months (where I had moved to only taking it once a day too) I started feeling depressed. Now, I have some life stresses going on right now (single mom in a financial lull in my sales job), but I’m typically a pretty upbeat person with faith that all will be fine but I was really struggling to stay hopeful. I found myself crying more regularly, even at work, with an internal heaviness of the weight of the world on my shoulders. And, I did find myself laying in bed wondering if it was all worth it and actually thinking about suicide…at the same time I realized this is absurd, but the thoughts were crossing my mind. So, I went off of it a couple days ago, and now I feel stable again and generally positive, though I still have the same challenges to deal with. I can’t really say for sure the Chantix was making me feel that way, but there is a possible corrolation. This didn’t happen until 8 weeks or so had gone by. So, just be careful and if you do notice yourself feeling depressed and hopeless, take note that it could be the Chantix and stop for a few days and see if it makes a difference.

  14. DeAnn
    WI
    Reply

    I’m on Chantix for the second time. The first time I was able to quit for 2 1/2 years! Recently my mom had some terrible health issues and I found myself smoking again. Two days after starting the Chantix I was unable to fall asleep due to incredible restless leg. It was only my left leg. I’ve tried everything I can to go to sleep but nothing is really working. Once I do fall asleep the pain in my leg is so intense that wakes me up and keeps me awake for hours. I’m the type of person that needs at least seven hours of sleep a night so I’m barely functioning. This may be a dealbreaker for me. I’m just looking for advice and how to deal with the side effects. I so want to quit smoking and this is the only thing that’s ever worked for me. Any help that someone could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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