Does Smoking Fog Brains?

Axel HeaderMany smokers cite relief of psychological symptoms such as distress as a reason for continued smoking. However, the relation between smoking and mental health is unclear (is it really?).

In an analysis of 26 prospective, observational studies conducted in various countries worldwide, investigators compared changes in mental health more than 6 weeks after smoking cessation with changes for the same amount of time among people who continued to smoke. Particular focus was put on symptoms of general anxiety, depression, quality of life and stress.

After a mean follow-up of 6 to 12 months, smoking cessation compared with continued smoking, was associated with significant decreases in anxiety, depression and stress and significant increases in psychological quality of life and positive affect.

This effect was similar between participants from general populations and those with physical psychiatric illnesses.
(BMJ 2014 Feb 13; 348:g1151).

In this study, smoking cessation was associated with improved mental health…
These challenges widely held beliefs that smoking relieves psychological symptoms and that trying to quit smoking aggravates such symptoms.
The authors note that the effect size of smoking cessation is similar to that of drug treatment for depression or generalized anxiety disorders.
It should be seriously considered in such situations and should be highlighted as a medical treatment.

It is easily said – I know, and there are many other situations where the same line of thinking applies:
It is more sensible to lose weight rather than having to inject Insulin,
It is more sensible to quit smoking rather than take medicines for emphysema,
It is more sensible to start physical exercise rather than take pills for high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, or luckily ?, there is not only sense in this world and modern medicines do sometimes contribute to live individual choices in pursuing insensible behaviors.

Philosophy apart : I was more intrigued by sparking a party talk among smokers and non-smokers about mental health.
Needless to say I am a non-smoker ?

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