There’s a reason why quitting smoking is one of the most commonly recommended preventive health tips: Frequent smoking can increase risk for heart disease and stroke by up to four times and lung cancer by up to 25 times. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But while there’s certainly no arguing the physical benefits of quitting, have you considered its impact on your mental state?
You might think that cutting out cigarettes will increase your anxiety—after all, smoking is a common way to calm nerves and reduce stress. But abstaining from tobacco products will actually do your brain some good. In a recent study from Washington University School of Medicine, researchers analyzed mental health patterns from 4,800 daily smokers who had reported mood disorders. Three years after an initial survey, those who quit smoking or cut back significantly experienced improved mental health, including fewer instances of depression and anxiety, as well as a decrease in addictive behavior like excessive alcohol consumption.
While the research does not directly show that smoking cessation leads to a decrease in mental health disorders, it does strongly associate the two and demonstrates that the impact of smoking is more than just physical. If you’re looking for support in your quest to quit smoking, there are many resources available with the tools you need to kick the habit and live a healthier lifestyle – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Photo credit: Matt Trostle