5 Factors Affecting the Treatment of Smokers with Mental Health Disorder

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in Blog

Dr. Howell

People with mental health problems who smoke necessitate a different treatment approach than those who do not smoke. This is because doctors understand that these patients are dealing with two separate problems – the mental disorder and addiction. During treatments, there are various factors that are taken into consideration to ensure positive results:



 1.  Diagnosis and Under-treatment

Smokers who have mental health issues are expected to receive nicotine dependence treatment side by side with the usual therapy for their mental disorder. All individuals who have mental health issues should be asked if they are smokers. If yes, they should be advised to quit as soon as possible. The primary healthcare provider is responsible for explaining to the patient how nicotine addiction is likely to aggravate his condition and ruin his efforts to recover.                      There are various smoking cessation programs that can be used by people trying to quit. However, those who have mental health disorders may have restrictions particularly when using medications as there are drugs that may worsen the withdrawal symptoms.

  2.  Timing (when should nicotine dependence be treated)

Until today, there are no clear guidelines as to when the smoking cessation program must be introduced to the patient with mental health disorder. However, studies suggest that it can actually lessen the symptoms of mental distress and therefore be introduced together with the main course of treatment. However, some health experts recommend treating the mental disorder first before proceeding to the smoking cessation program. It is an established fact that people with mental problems are more likely to smoke than mentally healthy individuals. It is possible that taking away cigarettes from their lifestyles might cause them to desist from undergoing treatments for their condition.


 3.  Psychiatric Medications

Monitoring is crucial to smokers who are being treated for mental health disorders. This is because a sudden reduction in the nicotine could increase the medication-related adverse effects. Adjusting the dose and schedule of taking the medication is therefore essential during the entire course of treatment.

 4.  Behavioral Intervention

More often, behavioral intervention is necessary to help the patient effectively deal with the effects of smoking cessation while undergoing treatment for his or her mental health disorder. There are trained professionals who administer various behavioral therapies alongside the medication for better, faster results.

 5.  Monitoring Symptoms (for both smoking cessation and mental health disorder)

Careful monitoring of the symptoms is essential during the treatment. Sometimes, the smoking cessation symptoms are the same with that of mental distress. The attending physician should be able to track the progress of the patient based on the improvement of the symptoms. Moreover, some of the symptoms of mental distress are aggravated by smoking cessation. In situations like this, adjustment in the treatment plan is indispensable.


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