The effects of quitting smoking are typically both physical and mental. Physical effects may include headaches, sore throat, and coughing. Some of the mental effects a person might experience after quitting smoking are anxiety, depression, and feelings of restlessness. All of these feelings are temporary and are gone for most people within a few weeks to one month. The mental effects tend to last longer than the physical effects.
Physical effects of quitting smoking do not usually last more than one week. The reason for the headaches and cold symptoms a person might experience after he or she stops smoking are related to the fact that the body expects the nicotine at regular intervals throughout the day. Not receiving the nicotine when the body expects it can cause adverse reactions and make a person feel very sick overall. After about three days, the nicotine will have left the body's system, and the body's addiction to the substance will start to go away. At the end of one week, the physical symptoms have usually also subsided, and a person may be dealing only with the mental effects of quitting smoking at that point.
A person who is experiencing the mental effects of quitting smoking probably feels as though he or she is on an emotional roller coaster ride. It is not unusual for someone who gives up cigarettes to feel happy one minute and sad or angry the next for a few weeks. Many people also complain of feeling restless and jittery. Insomnia may be a problem as well, and when sleep occurs it might be filled with vivid or disturbing dreams. Most people who make it at least three weeks without a cigarette will have gotten through the worst of the mental side effects.
Quitting smoking is very hard for many people, but there are ways to make the withdrawal process somewhat easier. It may be a good idea for a person who has recently kicked the habit to try to keep busy as often as possible. If the mind is occupied with other things, he or she probably won't be as likely to think of cigarettes. Many people who quit smoking often feel like they need to have something in their hands all the time to replace the cigarette that used to be there. It might be a good idea to get in the habit of carrying around a pen or something similar until that feeling goes away.
Doctors can also prescribe medications that may help a person get through the process of quitting smoking. There are nicotine pills, patches, and gums that might be useful to take until the worst of the side effects are over. The most important effects of quitting smoking are those related to overall health. No matter how bad the initial side effects are, in the long run most people are doing their bodies a favor by reducing their risks of cancer, heart disease, and many other health problems that are associated with smoking.