Quitting smoking would (also) be beneficial for mental health

Home Quitting smoking would (also) be beneficial for mental health
Written by Doug Hampton

(ETX Daily Up) – Contrary to popular belief, smoking cessation does not worsen mental disorders, and is even associated with improved mental health. This is the observation made by British researchers, who reveal that quitting smoking improves levels of stress and anxiety in people with or without psychological disorders.

Does smoking really relieve stress, as many smokers seem to believe? In the collective imagination, tobacco would have calming effects, even anti-stress virtues. A widespread idea that prevents some people from quitting smoking, especially if they suffer from mental disorders. But a new study by researchers from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, UK, could put an end to this misconception. Scientists looked at the impact of smoking cessation on mental health based on data from a randomized clinical trial conducted in 16 countries and 140 centers between 2011 and 2015. Not all participants were included, however. in the study, which is based solely on data from participants based in the United States, i.e. 4,260 adult smokers with or without mental disorders – more than 55% had a history of mental illness.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, their work suggests a link between smoking cessation and “significant improvements” in levels of anxiety and depression. An observation made between the ninth and twenty-fourth week of abstinence. In other words, smoking cessation does not aggravate mental disorders in those affected, and it would even be beneficial for mental health. “While we see a steep decline in smoking rates over the years in the UK in the general population, this is not the case for people with mental health conditions. The number of smokers with a mental illness has remained the same since 1993 – around 40%. We hope our findings can motivate policy makers and stakeholders to better support smoking cessation among people with mental disorders,” says Angela Wu, researcher and lead author of the study, in a press release.

“It is smoking itself that is causing the problems”

It should be noted that this improvement in mental health was observed after at least nine weeks of abstinence. This does not mean that withdrawal does not induce symptoms such as stress, fatigue, irritability, and other sleep disorders, but that in the long term stopping smoking is beneficial on all these levels. . “Many people who smoke cannot contemplate quitting. They know it is harmful to their health, but they feel they need cigarettes to cope with stress. people live every day when they smoke: they feel better afterwards.However, what people perceive as the benefits of smoking are the symptoms of cigarette withdrawal.Although smoking provides a short-term benefit, it is It is smoking itself that is causing the problems,” said Professor Paul Aveyard, co-author of the study.

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, Public Health France has published new data on the prevalence of smoking in France. In 2022, the country still had 15 million smokers, and 12 million daily smokers, i.e. respectively 31.8% and 24.5% of French people aged 18 to 75. A stable figure since 2019, while an unprecedented drop had been observed over the previous three years, and which could be explained by the weight of the health and social crisis – thus establishing a link with mental health.

“Our study adds to others showing that when people stop smoking, their mental health improves, while that of people who do not stop smoking does not improve,” concludes Paul Aveyard.

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