How Stopping Smoking Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Jan 1, 2020

Did you know – being smoke-free actually helps to relieve stress, anxiety and depression? Research shows it can also give you a more positive outlook on life.

Although many smokers say they want to give up, a common myth is that smoking helps to relive stress and feeling of anxiety. (It actually doesn’t – here’s why.)

Smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Statistically, smokers are more likely to develop depression or anxiety disorders over time than non-smokers. What’s more, giving up cigarettes can really help to improve your mood, as well as helping you to sleep better, exercise more and feel an overall improvement in your physical (and mental) well-being.

The psychological benefits of quitting smoking

Studies show that people’s anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower after they stop smoking, compared with those who carry on smoking. People who quit can concentrate more, have more free time and are more likely to have a better quality of life.

Smokers with mental health problems

Geoff Heyes, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:

“42% of all cigarettes smoked in England are by people with mental health problems. We urgently need to see mental health services given as much importance as physical health, and much better integration of mental and physical health services, so that people are treated as a whole and taken seriously.”

The psychological benefits of stopping smoking, in people who already have a mental health disorder, are enormous. Quitting smoking can reduce some mental health symptoms, and can lead to reduced doses of anti-psychotic medicine.
Smokers living with a mental health problem also have a life expectancy eight years lower than the general population; very likely as a result of the physical effects of smoking, such as lung cancer and COPD.

Stopping smoking could help as much as antidepressants

One theory as to why people with mental health problems are more likely to smoke than others is that it is perceived that nicotine gives immediate relief from the unpleasant symptoms of anxiety, depression or schizophrenia.

But this is a myth – in fact, people with psychiatric disorders are likely to feel calmer, more positive and have a better quality of life after they give up smoking. According to studies, the beneficial effect of quitting in people with psychiatric problems can be as effective as antidepressant therapy for certain mood and anxiety disorders.

Smokefree Hampshire are here to help you when you’d like to give up smoking. We want to support you to give up smoking in the best way for YOU. Contact us to sign up for our free support to stop smoking.

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Feeling anxious, depressed or stressed? Contact Talk Plus or italk for free NHS help to support your mental well-being, or contact Andover Mind, your local mental health charity, for more information.

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Smokefree Hampshire is your local stop smoking service commissioned by Hampshire County Council.