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Researchers find brain circuitry that raises anxiety during nicotine withdrawal

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Anxiety associated with smoking cessation is a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. We all know, Cigarettes are highly addictive, and when you’re trying to quit it’s not unusual to feel a heightened level of anxiety.
A new study may offer smokers a promising breakthrough as researchers
have identified the neural circuit and chemical signals that appear to cause anxiety during periods of nicotine withdrawal.

“Increased anxiety is a prominent nicotine withdrawal symptom that
contributes to relapse in smokers attempting to quit,” lead researcher
and neuropsychiatrist, Andrew Tapper, from the University of
Massachusetts in the US, said in a press release.

“We identified a novel circuit in the brain that becomes active during nicotine withdrawal, specifically increasing anxiety.”

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The study reveled many discoveries about interconnected brain
mechanisms that induce anxiety during nicotine withdrawal, and possible
ways to derail these mechanisms in order to treat, or even prevent the
especially troublesome symptom.
They confirmed that this region is activated during nicotine withdrawal,
and found that it appears to be responsible for feelings of increased
anxiety. Experiments leading to the multiple, related findings were conducted
over several years by the laboratories at UMMS and The Scripps Research
Institute of La Jolla, California.
The study is published online in the journal Nature Communications.

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