According to the NHS it’s also proven to boost your mental health and wellbeing: it can improve mood and help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
The link between smoking, anxiety and mood
It’s a common belief that smoking helps you relax. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension.
Smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time.
Why does it feels like smoking helps us relax?
Smoking cigarettes interferes with certain chemicals in the brain.
When smokers haven’t had a cigarette for a while, the craving for another one makes them feel irritable and anxious.
These feelings can be temporarily relieved when they light up a cigarette. So smokers associate the improved mood with smoking.
In fact, it’s the effects of smoking itself that’s likely to have caused the anxiety in the first place.
Cutting out smoking does improve mood and reduces anxiety.
The mental health benefits of quitting smoking
When people stop smoking, studies show:
- Anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower
- Quality of life and positive mood improvements
- The dosage of some medicines used to treat mental health problems can be reduced by doctors
Smokers with mental health problems
- Are much more likely to smoke than the general population
- Tend to smoke more heavily
- Die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than those who don’t experience mental health problems – smoking plays a major role in this difference in life expectancy
- Need higher doses of some antipsychotic medicines and antidepressants because smoking interferes with the way these medicines work
Stopping smoking can be as effective as antidepressants
People with mental health problems are likely to feel much calmer and more positive, and have a better quality of life, after giving up smoking.
Evidence suggests the beneficial effect of stopping smoking on symptoms of anxiety and depression can equal that of taking antidepressants.