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Smoking: Its impact on mental health

  • October 10, 2017
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Most of us are familiar with the impact of smoking on physical health, but not about its impact on mental health. It has been reported that smoking can result in stress, depression and anxiety.

It is known that people suffering from depression have lower levels of a chemical in brain called dopamine which is the trigger of positive and happy feelings. Nicotine causes release of dopamine, giving smokers a short lived feeling of pleasure. However, smoking switches off the natural secretion of dopamine by the body in long-term making the smokers, smoke more.

Smokers feel that smoking releases their tension, stress and anxiety due to the short lived high given by nicotine. However, smoking impairs lung functioning which can worsen the anxiety. The breathing rate becomes faster than normal, causing panic attacks, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness. These symptoms lead to greater anxiety than before and might cause the development of panic disorder.

It is very intimidating for smokers to quit. They cannot remain without a cigarette for long, otherwise they start developing feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger and physical symptoms. However, it is vital to quit smoking for improving both mental and physical health.  Some tips for quitting smoking are given below:

1. Finding alternate ways to deal with stress: There are healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety such as exercising, meditation, breathing exercises, music, writing about negative emotions or talking to someone about them.

2. Avoiding triggers: Things which trigger to smoke such as driving, overeating, alcohol consumption, visit to bars should be avoided.

3. Counseling: Various therapies such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), talking therapies can help bring change in habitual smoking behavior.

4. Preparing for withdrawal: It is important to be prepared for withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, headache, anxiety, cravings and headache. These symptoms can be reduced by drinking plenty of water, eating balanced diet full of fiber and fruits and reducing the intake of alcohol and sugar.

5. Taking medication: Medications like Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can help smokers to quit. The treatment involves administration of nicotine in the form of patches, sprays or gums to reduce cravings.

Smoking is most commonly encountered in corporate sector where the employees get succumbed to stress and work pressure. Employers are responsible to take steps to make the offices a smoking free environment as well help those employees who wish to quit. This can be done by supporting No Smoking Day, inviting healthcare professionals to deliver guidance on quitting smoking, giving flexible working options to employees who want to quit, developing some kind of workplace smoke free policy.

Developed by Scientific Angle brought to you by Health Meter Services

Disclaimer: Don’t follow any suggestions in this article without consulting a qualified doctor

Sources: 1. ”Smoking and its impact on mental health.” https://fitforwork.org/blog/smoking-and-its-impact-on-mental-health/. 2. “Smoking – How Does it Affect Your Mental Health?” https://quitsmokingcommunity.org/effects-smoking/smoking-affects-mental-health/.