The fear that stopping smoking will increase stress, depression, and anxiety keeps many people from taking steps to become tobacco free. This is another myth stoked through subtle and not so subtle messages from the tobacco industry. And, as I shared last week, this message all too often disproportionately impacts those among us who have more challenges because they struggle with mental illness.
Research tells us that this myth should be dispelled, and should not keep those who want to stop smoking bound to tobacco. Pre and post quitting measures of anxiety, depression, and stress find that people who stop smoking actually show improvements in mood, as well as lowered stress and anxiety. In addition quality of life, and general life satisfaction improve. One study that looked at 26 different stop smoking studies in which measures of depression, anxiety, stress, positive affect and psychological quality of life found that the total effect from stopping smoking was comparable to the effect shown in studies of people who begin antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.
For people who smoke, stopping is the single best thing they can do to improve their physical health, and it is a positive step toward improved mental health. There is no need to delay stopping because you are feeling down or anxious, or if you have mental health struggles. Stopping smoking can help you feel better mentally and physically.