Relationship between Smoking and Mental Health

Many adults, Some experts and even children know the effects of smoking. Cigarette companies also make aware smokers of the effects of tobacco. However, not many people know that smoking can also cause mental health problems. Research shows that smoking indeed affects the mental health of smokers.

Addiction

Addiction is the most common mental health effect of smoking. Addiction is caused by a substance in tobacco called nicotine. Nicotine travels to the brain in a span of ten seconds improving concentration and mood and decreasing stress. However, the feeling does not last long since the nicotine does not stay long in the system.

When nicotine is in short supply, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms. This is what brings addiction since smokers become dependent on smoking to keep nicotine in their system.

Anxiety

Many people smoke to get the feeling of relaxation caused by nicotine. However, research shows that smoking only causes relaxation for only a short time. After that, nicotine withdrawal lead to tensions and anxieties.

Stress

Some people use smoking as a self-medication for stress. Stress causes headaches, ulcers, anxiety, or breathlessness and some people turn to alcohol and cigarettes to relieve stress. People think that smoking reduces stress but this is not true. Addiction to smoking and withdrawal symptoms makes people feel stressed especially when they cannot find a cigarette to smoke.

Depression

People suffering from depression are likely to smoke to reduce the feeling of depression. This is a grave mistake since depression makes it very difficult to stop smoking because the withdrawal symptoms become more severe. The depressed smoker might become even more depressed since he or she is unable to stop smoking.

Nicotine stimulates the brain to release a compound called dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that causes positive feelings. Depressed people have low dopamine levels and that is why many of them turn to smoke to increase the level of dopamine in their system. Dopamine from nicotine causes the brain to depend on smoking for stimulation. Eventually, the depressed person smokes more to keep dopamine levels constant.

It is not yet known if smoking causes depression or depression leads to smoking. The relationship is complex but very common.

Schizophrenia

Research shows that people suffering from schizophrenia make up the majority of heavy smokers. This is because people with schizophrenia tend to use smoking to control the symptoms of their mental illnesses. They also smoke to reduce the side effects caused by schizophrenia medications.

Like many other mental health issues, research shows that schizophrenia and smoking have a causal relationship.

Many people who smoke say that they started smoking to reduce symptoms of their mental health problems. However, deeper investigation reveals that many of them begin smoking even before they start suffering from a mental health issue. There is no evidence that forms of smoking including vaping help reduce symptoms of mental health illnesses. The symptoms might reduce in the first few minutes after smoking but in the long run, the symptoms will come back and probably become more severe. In conclusion, the relationship between smoking and mental health illnesses remains complex. Some mental health issues seem to encourage smoking, while smoking seems to worsen existing mental health issues.