Smoking and Depression


Everyone knows that smoking is terrible for your physical health but did you know that it’s bad for your mental health as well?  Smoking is connected to anxiety and depression so if you’re looking for a reason to quit, this is it!

Smoking Does Not Help You Relax

Smoking is much more common in people with mental disorders like depression and anxiety and it may seem like the connection is obvious―smoking helps people relax.  This is false.  It’s a common misconception that smoking helps people relax and in fact, it increases anxiety and stress.  So why do people think otherwise?  When a person has a cigarette, it does tell their brain to relax but relax from what?  To relax from the anxiety that not having a cigarette was causing.  The nicotine creates stress so you’ll have another cigarette to stop it and feel better.  The only stress that’s being relieved is the stress the nicotine created in the first place.  

Smoking and Depression

Smokers are more likely to develop depression at some point in their lives. Depression is twice as likely in people who smoke but that’s not clear is whether depression leads to smoking or vice versa. It may be that people who are suffering from depression turn to smoking to relieve their symptoms because of the false calming effect.  

It is believed that nicotine damages nerves that regulate moods and interferes with the effectiveness of antidepressants so smokers usually need higher dosages than non-smokers.    Breathing second-hand smoke also has a detrimental effect on people’s mental health.  Studies have recently found that people who never smoked themselves but are exposed to second-hand smoke at home or at work are more likely to suffer from depression than those who are not.  

Time To Quit

While quitting smoking may not relieve your symptoms of depression completely, you may feel surprisingly calm, relieved, and more positive.  Quitting smoking makes you feel better physically and can help relieve anxiety and depression. 

Most people who have tried to quit smoking agree that it’s one of the hardest things to do and for people who have depression, quitting smoking can temporarily worsen symptoms.  Ask your doctor how you can quit smoking safely.  Along with a cessation program from your doctor, here are a few tips to help you become smoke-free:

Get support.  Encouragement from loved ones can help a lot when those cravings hit.

Clean everything.  Your home, car, clothes, and yes, even your pets’ fur.  Get rid of the familiar smell of cigarettes that may trigger cravings.

Find new ways to relax.  Massages, yoga, meditation, exercise, listening to music, and a new hobby are all ways you can unwind without nicotine.

Avoid triggers.  Things like drinking alcohol, coffee, and hanging out with smokers can trigger cravings.

Eat healthier snacks.  Dieting while you’re trying to quit isn’t a good idea but neither is filling the void with sugary, fat-filled junk food.

Reward yourself.  Set aside the money that you were spending on cigarettes as a reward to yourself when you’ve successfully quit.  You may be surprised at how much money you were wasting on them! 

Don’t give up.  Most people have to try more than once before they successfully quit.  Stick with it.  You’ll be glad you did!

If you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and have been unsuccessful at finding an anti-depressant that will work for you, TMS therapy may be able to help.  Transcranial Magnetic Therapy is a safe, FDA-approved therapy involving magnets to stimulate areas of the brain associated with MDD and can provide safe, drug-free relief or even remission from the symptoms of depression. At GatewayTMS, we provide TMS treatments in a calming, relaxed atmosphere and are focused on your health and wellbeing.  Call GatewayTMS today at (314)909-8487 to find out if TMS is right for you.