Quitting smoking may be as
good for your mental health as it is for your physical health, a new study
Researchers analysed data
from 4 800 daily smokers in the United States who took part in two surveys
conducted three years apart. Those who had an addiction or other mental health
problems in the first survey were less likely to have those issues in the
second survey if they'd quit smoking, the investigators said.
The first survey found that
40% of the participants had mood or anxiety disorders or a history of
these conditions, 50% had alcohol problems and 24% had drug
The second survey showed
that 29% of those who'd quit smoking had mood disorders, compared with
42% of those who still smoked. Alcohol problems were reported by 18% of quitters and 28% of ongoing smokers, and drug problems
affected 5%of quitters and 16% of those who still smoked.
The study findings were
released online in the journal Psychological Medicine.
When treating those with
mental health disorders, doctors may overlook their patients' smoking habit in
the belief that it's best to deal with the psychiatric issues first, the
researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis noted
in a university news release.
Self-medicating with cigarettes
"Clinicians tend to
treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow
patients to 'self-medicate' with cigarettes if necessary," lead
investigator Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, an assistant professor of psychiatry, said
in the news release. "The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more
challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with
However, these findings
suggest a strong link between quitting smoking and improved mental health. But
while the researchers found an association between the two, the study did not
prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
"We really need to
spread the word and encourage doctors and patients to tackle these
problems," Cavazos-Rehg said. "When a patient is ready to focus on
other mental health issues, it may be an ideal time to address smoking
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