Smoking and Mental Health

One of the most common reasons smokers give for not quitting is that cigarettes help them cope with life, and that without smoking, things would just be too stressful.

However, research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicates that when it comes to enhancing our mental well-being the best thing we can do is quit.  The review of twenty-six studies showed that stopping smoking is consistently associated with improvements in depression, anxiety and stress, compared with continuing to smoke.

So why do we often feel more relaxed after a cigarette?  The explanation is likely to be in the temporary relief smoking brings from cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.  If we are addicted, then it feels good to smoke simply because it makes cravings go away.  We feel relief, just in the same way we do if we scratch an itch.

Of course, the relief is only short lived, and we end up in a vicious circle that leaves us dependent on cigarettes just to feel ‘normal’. However, once we have quit smoking, especially for a prolonged time, the cravings go away – and so does our dependence on cigarettes for relief.

From there, mental well-being can improve, and the BMJ research found that the positive effects of quitting on mental health were stronger than the effects of anti-depressants.  What is more, mental health improved even among people living with mental health conditions – so it seems anyone can benefit.

So the message it seems is clear.  If we smoke, then kicking the habit is good for our mind as well as our body.

For anyone wanting to quit smoking in Bracknell Forest, the good news is that we have a local and free stop smoking service.  For more information – visit Bracknell Forest Stop Smoking Support.