Stopping smoking linked to improved mental health

February 13, 2014

The researchers say the effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.

It is well known that stopping smoking substantially reduces major health risks, such as the development of cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. But the association between smoking and mental health is less clear cut.

Many smokers want to stop but continue smoking as they believe smoking has mental health benefits. And health professionals are sometimes reluctant to deal with smoking in people with mental disorders in case stopping smoking worsens their mental health.

So researchers from the universities of Birmingham, Oxford, and King's College London set out to investigate changes in mental health after smoking cessation compared with continuing to smoke.

They analysed the results of 26 studies of adults that assessed mental health before smoking cessation and at least six weeks after cessation in the general population and clinical populations (patients with chronic psychiatric and/or physical conditions).

Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

Measures of mental health included anxiety, depression, positivity, psychological quality of life, and stress. Participants had an average age of 44, smoked around 20 cigarettes a day, and were followed up for an average of six months.

The research team found consistent evidence that stopping smoking is associated with improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, psychological quality of life, and positivity compared with continuing to smoke.

The strength of association was similar for both the and clinical populations, including those with . And there was no evidence that study differences could have skewed the results.

Although observational data can never prove causality, "smokers can be reassured that stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits," say the authors.

"This could overcome barriers that clinicians have toward intervening with smokers with ," they add. "Furthermore, challenging the widely held assumption that has benefits could motivate smokers to stop."

Explore further: Smoking cessation may improve mental health

More information: www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.g1151

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The Shootist
5 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2014
it's been upwards of three years since I ate those Chantix (a god awful nasty hallucinogen, worse than LSD, worse than psilocybin, and except for the nausea, worse than mescalin. Docs? You really need to prescribe something with the Chantix to take the edge off. I dunno. Valium, Librium, Haldol, Thorizine, something. The side effects were ugly. ). A 60 day regimen with options for another 30, which I declined.

The only upside, to the experience, was a lack of any urge to smoke cigarettes. No tobacco now for coming up on three years.
AlexCoe
not rated yet Feb 15, 2014
I'm not sure what to think actually.
Forced to stop because of a radical neck dissection* in early December, I've simply used a little bit of lorazepam (0,50 as needed) for the anxiety, which has worked for me.
My wife however decided to stop at the same time, hasn't fared as well. She needed some sort of anti-depressant prior to cessation and hasn't done well with quitting at all.
While the doctors stapled my head back on, she has consistently tried to rip it back off!
My guess is that for some people the need for some sort of medication both for the initial cessation as well as some sort of maintenance at least short term, would be mandatory.
If nothing else it would benefit those who have to live and work with them!

*Surgery was because of HPV+16 related tonsil cancer, verified by pathology, non smoking related.
The Shootist
not rated yet Feb 15, 2014
You stopped with Chantix?

My physician didn't offer any option other than to stop taking the Chantix.

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