5 Facts about Smoking and Mental Health

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

Dr. Howell

If you have a mental health problem and you smoke, you may feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. While it can be real challenging at first, quitting smoking can significantly improve your health, especially your well-being. Once you get through the tough stage, you will feel better and live longer.

Here are some facts that link smoking with mental health:


People living with mental illness have a very high rate of smoking. There’s a large body of research suggesting a link between tobacco use and mental health. Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that 44.3 percent of all cigarettes in America are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness. This means that people with mental illness are twice more likely to smoke as other people. Studies also show that people with mental health issues (like depression, schizophrenia and anxiety disorder) are more likely to smoke and less likely to quit. But smoking doesn’t help you overcome your condition in any way.

People who smoke are more likely to develop mental illness although the reason behind this is still unclear. They are also more prone to developing emotional disorders, think about suicide, and go on to commit it. In other studies, it was shown that smokers were more likely to have a history of childhood trauma, which may link to adult depression. Furthermore, smokers are more likely to engage in other forms of substance abuse like alcohol and drugs, which unfortunately, can make their mental health problems worse.

Cutting back could lead to better mental health outcomes. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have found that people who struggle with addiction problems and mood disorders can safely quit smoking and that quitting the habit can significantly improve their mental health.


Mentally ill people seek comfort from cigarettes. Many people with mental health issues smoke because they think it helps alleviate their symptoms. While smoking causes improvements in mood, this benefit is short-term. According to experts, smoking puts mentally ill people at even greater risk of physical ill health. When seeking mental health treatments, heavy smokers report substantially poorer well-being, greater severity of symptoms, and more functional disability compared to non-smokers.

Smoking increases anxiety and stress. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Furthermore, there is no evidence that smoking does not reduce anxiety or deal with its underlying causes.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

If you have mental health problems and you smoke, now is the time to consider quitting. By stopping smoking now, you will feel much healthier and better. You may also reduce the amount of medication you take. If you find it hard to quit alone, consider seeking professional help. There are various quit smoking methods available today. Check with your doctor to identify which treatment is most suitable for you. You may also want to obtain additional therapies to address your mental health issues. Among the most common therapies include counseling and psychotherapy.



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