Smoking Cessation and Its Effects on Depression

smoking and depression

I quit smoking seven weeks ago! Seven long weeks ago. It hasn’t been easy. Anyone who has ever kicked the nasty habit can tell you, it down right sucks at times! The physical withdrawals are, of course, at their worst the first week or two, and can play havoc with your moods, causing irritability and the like. But, what about the longer-term effects smoking cessation has on moods? Are there any?

Over at about.com’s Smoking Cessation Forum, members talk about the “Icky Threes” – the first being around day 3 of going through physical withdrawals. The second icky three is around week 3 where the psychological withdrawals begin and we have to “tackle the mental side of nicotine addiction.” Finally, comes the third icky three around 3 months of quitting where the newness of the quit wears off and we start to feel somewhat depressed.

My bipolar depression started a month after quitting, and became increasingly worse as the weeks went by. So, like a good mental health patient I visited my doctor and this is what he had to say:

psychiatrist

“Quitting smoking affects the levels of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being. Quitting smoking also affects how your body metabolizes medication, which could therefore, cause shifts in your mood.”

Makes sense to me.

He went on to say that eventually this tends to all work itself out in most people, but for those of us with mental illnesses, we may need our medication adjusted to make the transition from smoker to non-smoker a bit more tolerable. I agree.

On the other hand, according to a review of the literature done by Ragg, et al, there is almost no published research asserting that people with depression have an increase in symptoms or return of symptoms when they quit smoking. Moreover, they state that quitting smoking may even improve their mood in the long run. (Maybe they all just had their meds adjusted??? Huh? Did the researchers ever think of that?)

Quitting smoking – improving my mood? I will have to see it to believe it. Grrrr…. Stay tuned.

And in the meantime, any former smokers out there, feel free to lay some words of wisdom on me. I will treasure them!

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6 thoughts on “Smoking Cessation and Its Effects on Depression

    • I think it has messed with my moods a little but there are other factors that are just as much to blame. The time of year, the weather, illness, kids going back to school, big changes in schedule, interpersonal problems…have all played a part. Don’t let your fear stop you. The benefits of quitting will be worth it in the long run. At least that is what I keep telling myself. 🙂

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  1. My addiction to smoking was almost incurable. I quit smoking about 12 years ago, which definitely improved my overall health in many ways, but I stayed addicted to nicorette for 11 years, until the end of last year, when i finally said, that is enough! My nicotine addiction made it so that my sleep was always very disturbed, especially since I chewed way more gum than recommended, so when I quit that, my sleep improved dramatically and so did my depression for a few months. Then it came back with a vengeance, but I need to remember that just acceptng it rather than always seeking relief is probably good for me. I strongly believe that nicotine compensates for inadequate chemicals in the brain of a depressive or depressive/addict/alcoholic, but we need good medicines, not more drugs.

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    • We need good medicines not more drugs – exactly what I am going through. Congratulations on being nicotine free. What an accomplishment after all those years! ( I’m not there yet.) I hope your depression subsides soon. I really do.

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