Smokers who suffer from depression, anxiety, or too much stress will frequently delay attempts to stop smoking because they are worried that symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress levels will worsen. An article published on February 13, 2014 in the journal BMJ reports research that seems to indicate just the opposite. People with those tendencies who stop smoking actually show improvements in mood, as well as lowered stress and anxiety.
Gemma Taylor and her colleagues in the United Kingdom looked at 26 different stop smoking studies in which measures of depression, anxiety, stress, positive affect and psychological quality of life were administered prior to stopping smoking and again at the end of the study period. They combined the results of the different studies and found that people who stopped smoking had lower scores for depression, stress, and anxiety, and higher scores for psychological quality of life and positive affect compared with those people who continued to smoke. Incredibly, the overall effect from stopping smoking was as good as or better than studies that looked at people who began antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders!
For folks who smoke, we know stopping is the single best thing they can do to improve their physical health. This research seems to indicate that it may provide a boost to their mental health as well. If you are worried about quitting smoking because you feel down or anxious, don't delay stopping. Speak with your healthcare provider about your goals and use the tools that can help you maintain balance in your smoke-free journey. Know that quitting might just improve your physical and mental health!