For World Mental Health Day 2020 we’ve listed five reasons why your mental health could improve if you quit smoking:
- Stress and anxiety
Lots of people say the reason why they smoke is because it helps them to deal with stress with many smokers automatically reaching for a cigarette when the going gets tough. But what many smokers don’t realise is that it’s the smoking that causes them to feeling stressed out.
The jittery anxious feeling you get when you crave a cigarette is a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. You’ll start to feel calm again as soon as you take your first drag as nicotine floods into your system reaching your brain within just ten seconds. That feeling is short lived however, and it won’t be long before you start to feel anxious, jittery and tense again as the cycle of withdrawal and cravings begins again.
And the more you feed you addiction with nicotine, the more intense your cravings will become over time. These withdrawal symptoms and cigarette cravings trigger anxiety symptoms which can only be relieved by smoking a cigarette. This is how nicotine addiction works. Those who successfully manage to quit smoking however, are free of that addiction and the continual cycle of withdrawal that gets stronger the more you smoke.
- Financial problems
Money worries take their toll on your mental health and many smokers fall into debt as result of their habit.
A 20-a-day smoker will spend on average £72 a week on cigarettes. That’s £312 a month and a whopping £3796 a year. Meanwhile smoking 10 cigarettes a day will cost £156 a month and £1898 a year – that’s a lot of extra cash to find.
And if you smoke rollies, your habit won’t come cheap either with the cost of smoking 20 rollies a day at £1921 a year.
Quitting smoking will take away that financial pressure, meaning you’ll be better off and could have spare money to spend on activities that improve your well-being.
It is unclear whether smoking leads to depression or vice versa however, according to the Mental Health Foundation, smoking rates in the UK, are around twice as high among adults with depression as among the general population. It can be more challenging for people suffering from depression to give up smoking.
Nicotine stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain which is the chemical responsible for triggering positive feelings. Those with depression often have low levels of dopamine. As a result, some people use cigarettes to temporarily increase their levels of dopamine. Regular smoking leads the brain to switch off its own mechanism for making dopamine, meaning that in the long-term supplies decrease, encouraging people to smoke even more.
Smoking can make prescribed medication for some mental illnesses less effective. This means the smoker would have to take higher doses of their medication in order for it to work effectively. Smoking is known to interfere in particular with the way some antipsychotic medication and antidepressants work.
- Health anxiety
Here are just a few facts about how smoking can affect your health: Every cigarette you smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which cause cancer; half of all smokers will die prematurely and smokers die on average 10 years younger than non smokers; for every cigarettes you smoke a mutation occurs which could lead to cancer; and is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smokers are also at risk of suffering more severe symptoms if they catch Covid-19. Living with this knowledge can lead to serious health anxiety. The good news is that if you quit now your body will start to repair itself within hours and you will enjoy a better quality of life.
How to quit
All smokers are different and there is not one quit method or smoking cessation service that suits everybody. To help you find the quit smoking support that is best for you contact Help Me Quit, NHS Wales’ free smoking cessation service. To get in touch text HMQ to 80818, call 0800 085 2219 or click here to visit the Help Me Quit website.