healthy lifestyle,  mental health

Does Smoking Cigarettes Cause Depression?

More Smokers Have Depression Than Non-Smokers.

The Center of Disease Control claims 31% of all smokers are adults with a mental illness.

Why Does Smoking Feel Relaxing?

The simple anticipation of having a cigarette triggers neurons to produce the chemical dopamine.  The craving of nicotine activates dopaminergic pathways to motivate the smoker towards the rewarding stimulus; lighting a cigarette.  Scientists believe dopamine acts as a mediator by signalling a future reward and motivating the action required for attainment/satisfaction.

The calming effects of a cigarette are more psychological than physical.  Addiction to nicotine can increase stress, anxiety and depression, especially when you’re experiencing withdrawal.  The relaxation experienced after you light up is psychological.  If you smoke a cigarette, the craving calms – temporarily – and you feel relaxed; until the next craving.

Does Smoking Cause Depression or Does Depression Cause Smoking?

Evidence is inconclusive and research points in both direction.

Some researchers believe that depression leads to smoking.  People with mood disorders are more prone to making poor choices.  Once a cigarette is lit up the production of dopamine will increase the smoker’s level of energy and focus.  The euphoric qualities of the first few cigarettes can be a way to self-medicate the effects of depression.  But, relieving depressions symptoms with cigarettes may become counterintuitive to over prolonged use.

Doctors hypothesis smoking causes depression after prolonged use.  Regular exposure to nicotine damages pathways in the brain tasked with the regulation of mood.   The continuous overproduction of dopamine can effect and slow the body’s ability to produce the chemical.   A decrease in dopamine production will trigger mood-swings, feelings of unhappiness and depression.

The psychological stressors of cigarette addiction can also wear on a smoker’s mental health.  The health concerns, financial stress, social stigmas, public ostracizing and an inability to quit can all contribute to depression.

It seems likely that they both work hand-in-hand by encouraging each other in a vicious cycle.

Does Second Hand Smoke Cause Depression?

Dr. Mark Hamer of University College London released a study that found “people with high exposure to second hand smoke had increased levels of depression and anxiety.”  People exposed to secondhand smoke within their homes are at a greater risk of being admitted to hospital for a psychiatric illness than those who are not.

Does Smoking Affect Medication?

Smoking cigarettes while on psychiatric medication can decrease the concentration of drugs in the bloodstream.  This reduces the potency and effectiveness of the medication, requiring higher dosage adjustments to achieve success.

Does Depression Make It Harder To Quit Smoking

Nicotine is flushed from your body after 4-21 days, depending on how often you smoke.  The physical symptoms of withdrawal last just as long.

After that, it’s the psychological barriers, the triggers and dissolving the habit of smoking; it’s in the head.  The same place depression dwells.

But, it can be done.