Smoking And Its Detrimental Effects On Mental Health (Part 1)

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The effects of smoking on physical health are commonly known topics in today’s time. However, studies have shown that smoking can affect a person’s mental health and psychological capacity, as well. The effects may differ from person to person but having more comprehensive knowledge of smoking, and its impact can help in the effort to stop it for people who want to quit.

Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable illness. It causes more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States—41,000 of which are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. — Amy Copeland, Ph.D.

Smoking: The Addiction Cycle

It is common knowledge that a smoking habit is difficult to break, but it helps to look at the physiological reasons as to why that is so hard to do.

Much of the addiction involves developing a dependence on nicotine. When nicotine reaches the brain, there are notable positive effects in a person’s performance, at first. It improves their mood, sharpens their concentration, relieves stress, relaxes the muscles, and reduces appetite. Continued use, however, changes the brain and makes it reliant on nicotine – a restricting the brain of nicotine would then cause withdrawal symptoms. This high and lows cycle reinforces the smoking habit and fuels the addiction.

Younger people are more susceptible to nicotine dependence and addiction cycle due to a lack of impulse control or societal or environmental pressures. A diagnosed addiction can also lead to other types of addiction if the effects can hide each other’s downside. For example, withdrawal symptoms can be numbed with the use of alcohol and drugs, adding a layer of reinforced behavior that needs to be broken through.

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Smoking And Its Psychological Symptoms

As mentioned, compared to the physical health aspect, new studies and research are being found regarding smoking’s mental health effects. Use of nicotine has been proven to have some mental benefits (hence the appeal) but is this still the case in prolonged use? The following are some of the findings regarding the matter.

For many folks, it’s only when they have fallen into a dark hole of hopelessness that they finally feel so bad that they reach out  for professional mental health services. — Susan Heitler Ph.D.

Smoking And Stress

Stress is a common phenomenon shared by everyone; it affects us when we are made to cope with something we are unfamiliar with or what we deem unpleasant. ‘Self-Medication’ is the term used for when smoking is used to relieve stress, and there is some fact in doses of nicotine can alleviate stress.

These effects are, however, temporary. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to nicotine increases anxiety and tension. Heightened feelings of stress are linked to nicotine withdrawal and smoking acts as a way to temporarily relieve the feeling of stress but doesn’t outright cure it. The need to relieve stress can fuel addiction to smoking due to how smoking acts as a quick fix from withdrawal.

On the next blog, a few more effects of smoking to a person’s mental health will be discussed. The blog will include a discussion on the correlation of smoking with depression, and also schizophrenia. How to help yourself break the habit of smoking is also part of the blog’s topic.

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The bottom line is that of every ten people successfully quitting, 9 did so by themselves whether by slowly reducing the amount smoked or going cold turkey and only one used drug therapy and/or counseling. — Nigel Barber Ph.D.

Some people find it very difficult to do so, but with strong will and motivation, it can be done. While a majority of smokers want to quit, according to study – 70% of smokers try and abstain from it, they fail miserably. Like any other addiction (drugs, sex, gambling, and alcohol), smoking is hard to beat. But it can be done, and it must be done if you value your health more than that cigarette puff.