top of page

Puffing Away the Sadness: Smoking and Mental Health

Smoking is bad for your health. It has been the poster boy concerning cancer, respiratory disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. I read it on billboards, see it in advertisements, and I can even see it written on the cartons of cigarettes. Despite the knowledge being commonplace, we still see people smoking cigarettes daily.

I often see this in movies when the protagonist is upset or heartbroken; they casually whip out a box of Marlboros along with a silver zippo to light one up in the pouring rain. While this act in filmmaking is undoubtedly a poignant message that conveys that the protagonist is now jaded and cares for little else, including their wellness, the connection between cigarette smoking and mental health goes hand-in-hand more than we would like to accept.

Smoking and Mental Health

How are Smoking and Mental Health Related?

Smoking and mental health are two subject matters that are rarely talked about in the same breath. While cigarette smoking does provide a degree of relaxation, it is extremely short-term. After your first cigarette of the day, you might feel buzzed for about 10-15 minutes tops.

After that, every cigarette a person smokes does little for relaxation or stress reduction. Studies show smoking while having mental health issues increases anxiety and tension. Nicotine, present in tobacco, creates an immediate sense of relaxation, so people smoke in the belief it reduces stress and anxiety.

This feeling is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal and increased cravings, further worsening the mental capabilities of the individual. Personally, I feel that most people get into smoking at an early age, most likely in college or high school. Probably to fit in or to be more sociable or likable.

However, it ends up becoming a gateway for several issues. Cigarette smoking and the mental health implications you get from the habit are discussed. A few are sleeping disorders, anxiety, stress, depression, and worsening of mental ailments such as PTSD, and in some cases, consumption of nicotine-based products has stopped depression or anxiety medication from working as intended.

Smoking and Mental Health

How Does Cigarette Smoking Affect Your Body?

When smoking, it takes about 10-12 minutes for the nicotine to reach the brain and cause dopamine to release in abnormal amounts at inappropriate times. This not only makes the individual addicted to cigarettes but also to unhealthy amounts of dopamine, which the body craves at odd times.

This is called a neurochemical effect, as the nicotine present in tobacco directly affects the neurotransmitters present in the brain and interacts with dopamine and serotonin, which temporarily improves the individual’s mood and cognition, which some people with mental health disorders may find appealing. Thus, there is a connection between cigarette smoking and mental health. This is what causes the “relaxation” to occur in the first place.

Smoking and Mental Health

Why Should You Consider Quitting?

I shall further shed light on the interconnecting two factors. The adverse effects of smoking

Studies show that people with any capacity of mental health disorders find smoking to be a great de-stressor and help with the overall outlook of the individual. Yet people who find smoking to be a great stress reducer swear by its effectiveness.

The following are the reasons why smoking is not great for the psyche:

1. Mental Health Disorders as a Barrier to Decrease Smoking

Smoking causes interference with the effectiveness of mental health treatments, such as nicotine interacting with medications in an unintended manner, making it more challenging to manage symptoms. There are ways to quit with new alternatives to smoking, such as nicotine gums, nicotine patches, e-cigarettes, and so on.

While these alternatives are there to reduce or remove any reasons for smoking cigarettes, they are in no way meant to replace smoking as another unhealthy coping mechanism, and the objective of using these alternatives remains to quit smoking altogether.


2. Mental Health Disorders as a Barrier to Decrease Smoking

Smoking and mental health are connected through a myriad of psychological, biological, and even social factors influencing the relationship between cigarette smoking and mental health. People with mental health disorders often face unique challenges when attempting to quit smoking.

The presence of psychiatric symptoms can make it more difficult to engage in a smoking cessation program. Smoking also increases the risk of tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system.


3. Smoking as an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism

People with mental health disorders may try to quit smoking because they recognize it as their primary coping mechanism. Such a mechanism is not only unhealthy but also unsustainable as a practice in the long run.

Smoking does provide relief to people with mental health disorders, but the habit ultimately causes adverse health effects and is known to even cause individuals to become diabetic or worse.


4. Smoking Causes Multiple Ailments

Nicotine dependence causes a severe degree of comorbidity with multiple mental ailments, which include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. The decision to self-medicate with nicotine often causes more harm than good, as consuming nicotine may dampen down the symptoms of the ailments above.

Therefore, smoking and mental health are more interlinked than people give it credit for.

Smoking and Mental Health

Kill the Habit

Cigarette smoking and mental health are a small facet of the disgusting habit with further implications other than psychological ones. There are several physical consequences one might have to face when nurturing such a habit.

Smoking comes with its effects. They are mostly negative, affecting both the body and mind. Smoking causes several types of cardiovascular ailments and adverse health effects, including but not limited to cancer, various heart diseases, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Therefore, smoking and mental health are not the only two factors revolving around one another but rather are intertwined with many other factors, including physical ailments, chronic diseases, and life-altering consequences if the habit is left unchecked for long enough.


To Summarize!

Smoking is a horrible habit to get used to, and the people who do it will agree with me when I say that once it latches its claws into you, it is a terrible and taxing burden that is very difficult to get rid of once you’ve gotten into it. However, with the right company, effort, and willpower, anyone can get over this habit.

Since we’re already talking about it, I might as well say it. Smoking may seem to alleviate stress and help with a person’s cognition in the very short term, but it is ultimately an individual’s willpower and the strength of their spirit that factors into them getting over depression and anxiety.


bottom of page