Smoking, Stress & Mental Health

Debunking the misconceptions between Smoking & Stress

4th February marks ‘Time To Talk’ Day 2016.  A national initiative that hopes to tackle the stigma around mental health, and end the misconceptions around it.

1 in 4 of us live with mental health conditions in the UK, with some sufferers using smoking as a self medication to cope with times of anxiety. In fact, most smokers of all backgrounds tend to think of their habit as a “stress relief”.

But according to NHS Choices, the idea that cigarettes relieve stress is a complete myth. And smokers are actually more likely to develop mental health issues, like depression or anxiety disorders, than non-smokers.

So why would anyone falsely believe smoking improves their mood?

Scientists think it’s because smokers confuse the ability of cigarettes to abolish nicotine withdrawal as a beneficial effect on their mental health.

Smokers tend to feel irritable, anxious and down when they haven’t smoked for a while and these unpleasant feelings are temporarily reversed when they light up a cigarette. That creates the impression that the cigarette that has improved their mood, when in fact it’s just temporary relief from psychological disturbances that were caused by smoking in the first place.

Studies show that people’s anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower after they stop smoking when compared with those who carry on smoking and that their quality of life and mood improves. Also, the improved levels of oxygen in the body means that ex-smokers can concentrate better.

Sefton SUPPORT are encouraging local smokers to begin the fight against mental health conditions by quitting smoking.

Sefton SUPPORT are the local NHS Stop Smoking Service and have helped thousands of people to quit and live longer healthier lives. Their drop-in clinics run across the borough 6 days a week, and offer a chance for smokers to get specialist NHS support to quit. To find your local clinic here at the Healthy Sefton website, or call Healthy Sefton on 0300 100 1000.

Follow Sefton Support on Twitter by clicking here, and Facebook by clicking here.

You can join the conversation on Time To Talk  by searching the hashtag #TimeToTalk on Twitter and Facebook.