The physical health benefits of stopping smoking, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancers, lung diseases etc. are well documented, but the mental health benefits of not smoking should not be ignored.
Research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that stopping smoking is also associated with improved mental health. The study found that cutting down or stopping the use of cigarettes also
lowers the risk of mood disorders such as depression and addiction problems, specifically alcoholism and drug use.
Often when mental health professionals are presented with a patient suffering from depression, alcohol dependence or drug misuse who also smokes, there is a natural focus on the mental health condition rather than the smoking. However, research now shows that stopping smoking might be an effective treatment for people with chronic mental health problems. There is also evidence that smoking can decrease the effectiveness of some psychiatric medications.
As an additional incentive to stop smoking, evidence shows that being a current smoker increases the risk of developing dementia in later life, and being an ex-smoker has the same risk for dementia as having never smoked.
So, this National No Smoking Day, it’s worth considering both the mental health benefits as well as the physical health benefits of kicking the habit and taking the first step to a healthier you.
Smoking cessation may improve mental health. Dryden. Washington University (2014)
Change in mental health after smoking cessation. Taylor et al.BMJ (2014)
Smoking Behaviour and Mental Health Disorders. Minichino et al. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2013)
Smoking as a Risk Factor for Dementia and Cognitive Decline. Anstey et al. American Journal of Epidemiology (2007)