Smoking is known to have a negative impact on your physical health, but what you may not know is that it can also have a devastating effect on your mental health
Research has shown that smoking is linked to depression and schizophrenia, two serious mental health conditions.
The impact of smoking on our physical health
This post is about mental health, but it is impossible not to also mention the impact of smoking on our bodies.
Smoking can have a negative impact on our physical health in a number of ways. First and foremost, smoking is a leading cause of cancer. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke, and a number of other serious health conditions. Not to mention, it can also make us look older than we are and can cause bad breath.
In short, smoking is bad for our physical health. But what about our mental health?
Smoking can trigger serious mental illness
According to a study by experts at the University of Bristol, smoking raises the probability of acquiring schizophrenia by between 53% and 127% and of developing depression by between 54% and 132%.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that can have a devastating impact on quality of life. The main symptoms of this disease are hallucinations, delusions, and problems with cognition.
Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health condition leading to consistent low mood and loss of interest in activities. It can also lead to a range of physical symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep problems.
The impact of smoking on mental health
“There is no longer any doubt that smoking is bad for mental health and this needs to be a priority in the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan.
Those working with people with mental health conditions need to understand and address the vicious cycle of bidirectional effects, whereby having symptoms of mental illness causes individuals to smoke more and to be more likely to become addicted.
At the same time, smoking also increases the risk of subsequent mental illness and exacerbates mental health symptoms. Lower rates of smoking will improve overall levels of good mental health as well as physical health.”Professor Marcus Munafo, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol
New information on the number of smokers who have mental health disorders was also provided at the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress.
People with mental health disorders have substantially greater smoking rates than those without, and it is estimated that among England’s 6 million smokers:
Smokers with severe mental disorders number 230,000 (e.g., schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder)
There are 1.6 million depressed and anxious people.
To understand why this is the case and to support other mental health issues like anxiety or bipolar illness, more research is required.
“Smoking addiction is not a trivial matter; it causes serious harm to both body and mind. Smokers with mental health conditions can quit with the right support from healthcare professionals. It’s our duty as psychiatrists to offer them the help they need to succeed.”Dr. Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
If you are a smoker, it is important to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect your mental health. If, on the other hand, you are struggling with mental health issues, quitting smoking can be an important step in your recovery.
Tips on how to quit smoking
If you’re a smoker, it is clear that quitting is one of the best things you can do both for your physical as well as for your mental health.
Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:
Once you decide to quit smoking, get rid of all the cigarettes in the house. This way, you won’t be tempted to smoke when you see them.
Tell your friends and family that you are quitting smoking. You need their help to make it through and stay on track.
Think about what triggers your smoking. For example, if you smoke after dinner, try to find another activity to do instead, like taking a walk. Avoid places like bars where everyone is puffing away and the temptation to light up a cigarette can become overwhelming.
Choose a method of quitting that works for you. There are many options available, including nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications, and counselling.
Get professional help to quitting smoking. Talk to your doctor about medication or therapy that can help you quit smoking for good.
Different Approaches to Quit Smoking
Here are seven approaches you can take to quit smoking:
Cold turkey is the most straightforward approach to quitting smoking. It involves stopping smoking suddenly without any assistance or support. This method requires a lot of willpower and determination.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Nicotine replacement therapy involves using products such as gum, patches, and lozenges that contain nicotine but not tobacco. These products help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Prescription medications such as bupropion and varenicline can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications work by altering brain chemistry to decrease the desire for nicotine.
Behavioral therapy involves working with a therapist or counselor to identify triggers that cause you to smoke and develop strategies for coping with these triggers.
Hypnosis involves being put into a trance-like state where suggestions are made to change behavior patterns related to smoking.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body believed to affect addiction and cravings.
Joining a support group provides access to people who understand what you’re going through and can offer guidance, encouragement, and accountability.
Final thoughts on Smoking and Mental Health
In addition to the physical health risks associated with smoking, it’s important to recognize the impact on mental health as well.
Studies have shown that smoking can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, and quitting smoking can lead to improved mental wellbeing.
By taking steps to quit smoking, not only are you improving your physical health but also your mental health, leading to a happier and healthier life overall.
Don’t hesitate to seek support if needed, as quitting smoking is worth the effort.
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