Smoking And Mental Health

Smoking is most commonly linked to physical health problems, but it can also have implications for mental health. Research suggests that people who have depression are twice as likely to smoke as people who do not have depression; however, it is unclear whether smoking increases the risk of depression or depression increases the likelihood of smoking, as some people smoke prior to experiencing symptoms of depression.

For many people, smoking acts as a kind of comfort and means of taking the edge off if they feel irritable, stressed or anxious. In the short-term, smoking can make you feel better, as it releases dopamine, a chemical, which is associated with positive sensations and lifted mood; however, in the long-term, smoking can actually contribute to an increased risk of depression because it interferes with levels of dopamine in the body and as levels decrease, your mood may fall. As your brain becomes used to smoking, the processes used to produce dopamine are turned off and this leads to lower levels.

Nicotine also causes problems related to mental health disorders, as it is an addictive substance and this makes it very hard to give up; nicotine may relax you and make you feel happier, but it causes changes in your brain, which mean that you experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have a cigarette. 

For some people, smoking may seem like a cure for anxiety, but actually, smoking can make anxiety worse. This is because the body gets used to the effects of nicotine and this causes cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which make you feel even more anxious when you don’t smoke. In truth, smoking may provide a short-term fix, but it is definitely not a cure for anxiety; if you do suffer with anxiety or depression and it affects you on a regular basis, there are treatments and therapies, which may be beneficial, such as talking therapies, medication and exercise. See your GP if you suffer from symptoms such as feeling anxious or nervous, feeling low or helpless for a long period of time, changes in appetite, feeling lethargic and lacking in motivation, struggling to get up in the mornings and feeling constantly worried or on edge. 


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