The Effects of Smoking on Your Mental Health

Tobacco use doesn’t only have a negative impact on your physical health. It often leads to the onset and worsening of some mental disorders. In this article, discover the effects of smoking on your mental health.
The Effects of Smoking on Your Mental Health

Last update: 30 May, 2022

It’s no secret that smoking negatively affects wellness. Due to the high concentration of toxic compounds in cigarettes, smokers are exposed to many diseases. However, beyond its effects on physical health, smoking may influence the development or worsening of many mental disorders. While many believe that it’s an effective method to relieve stress and anxiety, it’s far from beneficial.

In this article, we’ll explain the effects of smoking on your mental health.

The effects of smoking on your mental health

A person saying no to smoking.
At first, tobacco produces a relaxing effect that eventually leads to nervousness.

One of the major beliefs of smokers is that smoking can help relieve their symptoms of stress and anxiety. Due to the perceived relaxing effect of smoking, some people are convinced of this fact. However, this bad habit actually produces the opposite effect in the long term.

The toxic components of cigarettes cause changes in brain chemistry. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation, which is why smokers believe that it can relieve their anxiety. However, this condition is temporary and, soon after, the withdrawal symptoms and cravings are triggered.

Although smoking may seem to be the most effective way to control these reactions, it isn’t the way to treat anxiety and its underlying causes. In fact, the anxiety likely arose in the first place due to tobacco use.

Smoking and depression

Depression is also closely related to smoking. It’s harder for people with this disorder to quit due to the feeling of pleasure nicotine causes. However, it isn’t clear if smoking causes depression or if, perhaps, depression encourages people to smoke.

In any case, the components of tobacco deteriorate the brain mechanisms that help produce dopamine, which is a key hormone for wellness. Although it initially seems to stimulate it, in the long term, it hinders its segregation.

Tips to quit smoking

Physical and mental wellness improves significantly when you decide to quit smoking. In this regard, many of its benefits are perceived in the first weeks.

However, quitting isn’t always easy. Therefore, it’s a good idea to implement the following tips:

Design a plan to quit

Quitting “cold turkey” is the hardest way to say goodbye to smoking. Thus, people are most likely to reach their goal if they design a plan that consists of several strategies with professional help.

Choosing a good time to make this decision may be the key to success. This way, you’ll be less likely to quit in times of worry, crisis, or major changes. Some measures that you can include in this plan are:

  • Change your habits gradually while improving your diet and adopting an exercise routine.
  • Stay away from environments that encourage smoking (parties, bars, and the like).
  • Practice healthy habits such as meditation, aromatherapy, and therapeutic massages.
  • Start doing activities that require concentration.
  • Write reminders.
  • Start saving the money you spent on cigarettes.

Improve your diet

A diet to quit smoking.
A healthy diet will make you notice the benefits of quitting smoking faster.

A complete and balanced diet can be very useful if you want to quit smoking. While it isn’t the only solution against withdrawal syndrome, it can have a positive impact. Foods with high nutritional quality help mitigate the effects of toxins on physical and mental well-being.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat five or six times a day, combining foods such as:

  • Lean meats and fish
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil

You don’t want to miss this article: 4 Vitamins that Help You Heal Your Lungs After Smoking

Increase your water consumption

Some drinks increase the pleasure of smoking. Soft drinks, alcohol, tea, and coffee seemingly increase the taste of smoking. Therefore, it’s advisable to limit the intake of these drinks and increase your water consumption during the day. The ideal habit is to drink at least two liters of water a day.

Seek professional and family support

A woman in therapy.
In the most difficult cases, therapy can help address smoking.

Individual or group counseling can also help smokers break their habit. Talking therapies are useful for modifying the behaviors that lead to this habit. In fact, psychologists can suggest techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This technique is quite effective when smokers also have symptoms of a mental health problem. Additionally, it’s essential to have family support, especially if other family members also smoke.

Are you planning to quit smoking?

If the answer is yes, try to follow the recommendations we shared here. If they don’t work, ask a professional for other alternatives, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Quattrocki, E., Baird, A., & Yurgelun-Todd, D. (2000). Biological aspects of the link between smoking and depression. Harvard Review of Psychiatry.
  • Wing, V. C., Payer, D. E., Houle, S., George, T. P., & Boileau, I. (2015). Measuring Cigarette Smoking-Induced Cortical Dopamine Release: A [11C]FLB-457 PET Study. Neuropsychopharmacology.
  • Covey, L. S., Glassman, A. H., & Stetner, F. (2008). Cigarette Smoking and Major Depression. Journal of Addictive Diseases.
  • Leventhal, A. M., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2015). Anxiety, depression, and cigarette smoking: A transdiagnostic vulnerability framework to understanding emotion-smoking comorbidity. Psychological Bulletin.
  • Taylor, G. M. J., Dalili, M. N., Semwal, M., Civljak, M., Sheikh, A., & Car, J. (2017). Internet-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
  • Cahill, K., Hartmann-Boyce, J., & Perera, R. (2015). Incentives for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
  • Ussher, M. H., Taylor, A. H., & Faulkner, G. E. J. (2014). Exercise interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.