If You’re a Smoker, You May Want to Quit For the Sake of Your Mental Health
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
TV host and actor Jon Stewart started smoking cigarettes when he was just 15-years-old. He is now 57 and allegedly quit smoking back in 2000.
“I used cigarettes to fill a hole in me — an emotional void,” Stewart said, according to this report. “It was an activity that I did to make myself feel better.”
And while some might feel that smoking cigarettes may “take the edge off” and make them feel good, a recent study suggests otherwise. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 students enrolled in Serbian universities, and it appears that the students who smoked overall had poorer mental health.
We all know that smoking cigarettes can be very detrimental to our physical health.
“There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, cigarettes create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are toxic,” according to the American Lung Association.
But when we think of the possible consequences of smoking, we don’t usually think of issues such as depression. However, the results of the study revealed that the students who smoked had rates of clinical depression that were two to three times higher than the non-smoking students, according to one report discussing the study.
“Specifically, at the University of Pristina, 14 percent of smokers suffered from depression as opposed to 4 percent of their non-smoking peers, and at Belgrade University, the numbers were 19 percent to 11 percent, respectively.”
Furthermore, despite economic or socio-political backgrounds, the students who smoked also had higher rates of depressive symptoms and lower mental health scores (for example, vitality and social functioning).
"While it may be too early to say that smoking causes depression, tobacco does appear to have an adverse effect on our mental health," said one of the lead researchers.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Tobacco use is strongly associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders. Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to meet current criteria for mental health conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders and psychosis.”
So it’s kind of like the “chicken or the egg theory.” Which comes first? Are people smoking because they are depressed, or are people depressed because they are smoking?
In my opinion, it depends on the person. But I will say this: smoking tobacco causes inflammation throughout the body. The brain is exposed to this inflammation if you smoke. And there is credible research which suggests that inflammation can contribute to the development of depression.
We also have to think about alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “People who drink alcohol often also smoke and vice versa.” Overconsumption of alcohol has been linked to depression, and drinking too much booze also depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals. And having nutrient imbalances or deficiencies increases your risk of being depressed. Furthermore, smoking cigarettes can deplete the body of key nutrients (minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A).
So as you can see, there are multiple angles to look at this issue, and our mental health issues usually cannot be attributed to one thing. We have to approach our health (both physical and mental) holistically.
How can we be proactive?
Well, the obvious answer is to quit smoking! But for some, this is easier said than done.
To help you quit smoking, see if your place of employment has a smoking cessation program. Exercise may also help, and research has shown that just one hour of exercise per week might help keep depression away. It is also imperative to get sufficient, good quality sleep, manage stress with healthy activities such as meditation and eat a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
You also want to ensure that you are nutritionally balanced, and the only way to do this is to schedule routine nutrient tests in order to determine if you have any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. If the test reveals you have too much or too little of a certain nutrient, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
If you are a smoker and smoke because of stress, consider CBD (cannabidiol, a chemical found in cannabis plants). CBD is often confused with the better known cannabis molecule delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the one that gets you high when you smoke or ingest marijuana. CBD will not get you high, and it is available in lotions, oils, tinctures, sprays, candy and even dog treats.
Many scientists and medical professionals believe that CBD helps fight inflammation and may manage a wide variety of health issues such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, seizure disorders and anxiety.
And if you can manage such issues, the better your mental health will likely be.
To learn more about CBD, check out these pH Labs blogs.
And of course, if you are depressed and struggling with mental health, it is absolutely imperative to seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional to see what plan of treatment is best for you.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.