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Does Non-Nicotine Vaping Help With Anxiety? (& Potential Risks)

Does non-nicotine vaping help with anxiety? The relationship between smoking, vaping, and anxiety is a complicated one. Many people report that smoking or vaping helps alleviate anxiety symptoms and has a calming effect. But, as everyone knows, nicotine is a hazardous compound and one of the most addictive substances known to science.

That fact has led many people to look for other solutions — solutions like nicotine-free vaping that are “like” smoking or vaping but that don’t come with the dangers that nicotine brings to the table.

Can you get the same effects from vapes that are nicotine-free? Because if you can, these devices could take away some of the health risks and represent a much safer alternative.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons. We’ll examine why vaping helps some people combat anxiety in the first place and then look at whether or not vapes without nicotine can provide some of those same benefits.

Does Non-Nicotine Vaping Help with Anxiety?

As mentioned above, the connection between smoking cigarettes, vaping, and stress is well known.

Many people will tell you that one of the reasons why they smoke — or vape — is because it helps calm their nerves and reduce anxiety. But most people will also tell you that vaping with nicotine is terrible for you.

With the invention of non-nicotine vapes, many people believe that they can get these same benefits — but reduce the risks — by eliminating nicotine from the equation.

There’s some anecdotal evidence that vaping can help provide some temporary relief from the symptoms of anxiety, but hard and fast scientific evidence is still limited.

So, for the many people who do say that non-nicotine vapes help alleviate their anxiety symptoms, why is that?

While the exact mechanism isn't known, one theory is that the ritualistic nature of inhaling and exhaling vapor is strikingly similar to the kinds of breathing exercises that have long been recommended for alleviating stress.

This similarity, combined with the flavor and sensory experience you get from vaping, could combine to provide a temporary distraction from the kinds of circular or repetitive thoughts that many people who suffer from anxiety report.

It's important to mention that choosing non-nicotine vapes to help alleviate anxiety is undoubtedly going to be a better option for you than using cigarettes or vapes that contain nicotine. As we wrote above, nicotine causes all kinds of problems that trump any anxiety relief you might get.

So, when all is said and done, we offer only a qualified “yes” when determining whether or not non-nicotine vapes can help with anxiety.

That doesn't mean you should turn to vapes instead of counseling or other activities, like exercise or mindfulness and breathing exercises, as mentioned above.

But if you find relief from vaping, using non-nicotine vapes is probably less bad for you and is almost certainly the safer way to go.

Best Non-Nicotine Vapes for Anxiety

ARRØ Ultra

arro ultra

There are many options when it comes to choosing a vape to help alleviate anxiety symptoms. Some take an herbal-only approach, while others introduce other substances — namely CBD — to help get the job done.

Our top pick in this category is our ARRØ, which is also on our list of the best nicotine-free vapes and tops our ranking of the best vape to quit smoking.

We designed it to take a minimalist approach, utilizing only "flavored air" to help users develop breathing patterns that can calm and occupy their minds, heading off any circular self-talk that is often the hallmark of anxiety.

Our article on Vapes Without Nicotine for Anxiety covers this topic in more detail. It provides a more detailed explanation of why we build our ARRØ devices as we do and lists other options we recommend if you prefer vapes with additional ingredients.

Other Than Helping With Anxiety, What Are Other Potential Benefits of Nicotine-Free Vapes?

Women sitting on a bench facing a lake

One of the most apparent benefits of vaping without nicotine, outside of helping to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, is that these vapes can often be an effective tool for helping quit cigarettes or give up vapes that contain nicotine.

These vapes allow you to duplicate the ritualistic aspect of smoking or nicotine vaping but eliminate the addictive, toxic compound from the equation.

Repeated use of nic-free diffusers can help you gradually disassociate nicotine cravings from the act of vaping and increase your chances of quitting successfully.

Beyond this, many people who have been using non-nicotine vapes for a while say that they do so because it helps them maintain a sense of concentration and focus. This feeling is almost entirely due to the vaping ritual.

In essence, vapes are a glorified fidget spinner. Puffing one is a mindfulness ritual that gives your brain something to focus on besides the thoughts swirling around your head.

Some vapes also contain ingredients that promote a sense of calm or focus pharmacologically.

Vape producers may include ingredients like melatonin or chamomile — both well-known relaxants — which may help explain why some users report feeling a sense of calm when they vape.

Finally, in keeping with the “it's better than the alternative” theme, using a non-nicotine vape to achieve a sense of calm is undoubtedly better than turning to other more dangerous solutions — like drugs or alcohol — to get that same effect.

Potential Risks & Side Effects of Using Nicotine-Free Vapes for Anxiety

While nicotine-free vapes are generally considered safer alternatives to traditional smoking or vapes with nicotine, that doesn't mean that they don't come with their potential for risks and side effects. Let's take a quick look at some things to look out for.

Respiratory issues: This one is self-explanatory. One of the primary risks associated with vaping — whether it's with nicotine or without — is the potential effect on your respiratory health.

Inhaling any kind of vapor will always have the potential to irritate your lungs and airways. If that happens, you might experience symptoms like excessive coughing, wheezing, or, in extreme cases, even difficulty breathing.

Remember, too, that vaping can make existing respiratory conditions worse. So, use your best judgment.

Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions are always a potential risk with just about anything you put into your body. And when it comes to vaping, it's no different.

The general rule of thumb is that if you are allergic to a substance when it's not in a vape, you’re probably going to be allergic to it when it is in a vape.

This reality is why it's important to read ingredient lists on any vape you're considering (and, of course, to avoid any containing harmful ingredients to which you know you’re sensitive).

Adverse psychological effects: You must use your best judgment when turning to non-nicotine vapes for anxiety relief —some ingredients in a vape may have an impact that is the opposite of what you're after.

For example, if a vape contains caffeine or vitamin B12 — two ingredients that are associated with increased energy — you may wind up making your anxiety worse.

Also, for whatever reason, some people report feeling irritable or stressed out after vaping. It's not known why this is the case, but just keep in mind that for some people, turning to vapes as a way to deal with anxiety can sometimes wind up backfiring.

For more information, check out our in-depth article Are 0 Nicotine Vapes Safe and then learn a little about the Pros and Cons of Vaping Without Nicotine.

Can Nicotine-Free Vapes for Anxiety be Addictive?

Group of people at an outdoor concert

Are nicotine-free vapes addictive? To answer this question, it's important to distinguish between a true addiction (a physiological chemical dependence) and simple psychological habits.

If you're truly addicted to a compound, your body is physically dependent on it; if you take that substance away, you’ll experience physical withdrawal symptoms, which can be extreme.

In the case of a compound like alcohol, for example, withdrawal can be life-threatening.

So when we're talking about nicotine-free vapes being “addictive,” what we're referring to is a psychological dependence on the act of vaping itself.

Nicotine-free vaping can cause several habits that, while hard to break, pale in comparison to the hell of breaking free from nicotine dependence.

Psychological dependence: You can become psychologically dependent on the behavior of vaping — the ritualistic nature of bringing a device to your mouth, inhaling, and exhaling.

In essence, you can become reliant on vaping as a coping mechanism. However, this is not a debilitating physical addiction. It’s just a mental script that rewards your brain with a small dose of dopamine every time you run through it.

Flavor cravings: One of the significant appeals of today's vapes is the wide variety of flavors available. For some people, the attraction to vaping lies almost entirely in the flavor, regardless of whether or not the vape contains nicotine.

So it's certainly possible that you could become “addicted” to some of the flavors — particularly the sweeter, dessert-like flavors in some of today’s popular vapes. But again, this is not a physical-chemical dependence or a “true addiction.”

Reliance on vaping is a coping mechanism: We touched on this above, but you indeed can form an attachment of sorts to the act of vaping.

This procedure can become a deeply ingrained habit in and of itself, especially when you're using it as a way to escape feelings of anxiety.

Developing such a habit might eventually mean that you find yourself instinctively reaching for your vape as a default response any time you face a stressful situation or start experiencing anxious thoughts. But this is a risk with any behavior that you turn to for relief — not just vaping.

While all of these risks exist, and we wouldn’t want to minimize the possibility that you might experience them, it's essential to remember that everybody has their tolerance level, which will vastly differ from individual to individual.

If you know that you tend to obsess over things and quickly become reliant on specific behaviors in other areas of your life, you have a higher risk of becoming dependent on vaping.

It's essential to self-monitor your behaviors and take a step back if you find yourself becoming reliant on any behavior patterns in any aspect of your life.

Alternatives to Nicotine-Free Vapes for Coping with Anxiety

There are many ways to cope with anxiety that have nothing to do with vaping.

These range from things you can do on your own — without the involvement of any kind of mental health professional — up to the deep involvement of someone like a physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist who can provide therapy or medication.

Here are some of the things you can try:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychotherapy that is focused on helping change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety. This therapy is something that you need a therapist’s help with.

Although it doesn't work for everyone, CBT helps people learn coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques that can provide long-lasting relief from the symptoms of anxiety.

Mindfulness and meditation: These are techniques you can practice on your own or with the help of videos, books, or audio recordings.

This path involves learning and practicing techniques for staying “present in the moment” rather than allowing racing or anxious thoughts to take over or permitting worries about the future to dominate your thinking.

Search online for “mindfulness exercises” or “meditation techniques,” and you'll find hundreds, if not thousands, of guides, recordings, and apps to help you learn some of these techniques.

Exercise and physical activity: This one’s simple. Regular exercise has long been linked to improved mental health, including alleviating anxiety symptoms. So get out and move!

Vape & Chill?

Smiling woman hiding from the camera

Non-nicotine vapes can be one tool in your arsenal of weapons to fight anxiety, but they certainly don't have to be the only one.

Try some of the techniques mentioned above in conjunction with nicotine-free vapes like our ARRØ (rated top in our list of the best vapes without nicotine for anxiety and one of the best overall vapes for anxiety) to find long-lasting options that work.

Everyone is different, and different things trigger everyone's anxiety. Not everyone responds in the same way to every remedy.

Try some of the techniques we mentioned here, and let us know how you do. Good luck!

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