We all know that smoking is bad for health and yet a lot of people still smoke. Although the number of people smoking only in the UK has declined in the last 30-50 years, the same cannot be said for people with mental health issues.
Out of 10 million smokers only in the UK, over 3 million have some kind of a mental condition. It is scientifically proven that 33% of the people that suffer from depression or anxiety smoke, and they smoke more than the other smokers.
According to one report from 2016, mental conditions such as depression and anxiety can shorten a person’s life by more than 10 years, and the main reason for that is actually the impact of heavy smoking.
Although it is not proven that people with mental problems don’t want to quit smoking, it is surely more difficult for them to quit. This is a result of the many years during which they used cigarettes to heal stress without any targeted support.
Smoking and mental health- what you need to know
Smoking and depression
People that suffer from depression have a lower level of dopamine, a chemical substance that causes happy feelings when released in the brain. The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the release of dopamine, but it also causes the brain to stop the natural supply of dopamine, resulting in people smoking more and more.
Smoking and anxiety
Although the nicotine provides a short good feeling, it quickly fades away and causes withdrawal symptoms similar to those of anxiety, which means instead of helping people with their anxiety, it actually makes it worse.
Smoking and stress
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A lot of people smoke to deal with stress more easily. Although this may help in the short term, it does not solve the problem and may cause additional problems in the long term.
Tips for quitting smoking
-Plan ahead in order to successfully stop smoking. The least successful way is to just stop overnight.
-Write down the advantages of quitting to motivate yourself – better physical health, concentration, fresh breath, more money, etc.
-Talk to professionals, go to talking therapies, accept the emotional and practical help that experts provide for smokers who want to quit
-Get support from your friends and family. If they smoke, encourage them to quit too, or at least not to smoke when you are around.
-Pick a good time to quit. Your chances of successfully quitting are bigger when you are stable.
-Prepare for the symptoms of withdrawal that may include anxiety, headaches, irritability, cravings, and nausea. Drink more water, fresh juice and eat healthier in order to reduce their impact. Also, lower the intake of caffeine and sugar.
-Use e-cigarettes as a cleaner alternative.
-Talk to your doctor for whatever physical and mental state you are going through.