It’s not a mystery that smoking harms our physical health. But many smokers and vapers are unaware of the habit’s impact on their mental well-being. Can it be the cause of a mental disorder? Can it worsen already existing psychological condition? Let’s shade light on these questions.
What Statistics Says
In general, people who have any type of mental health problems smoke or use vapes. 90 percent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia are smokers. The percentage of smokers among those with depression, anxiety, bipolar and panic disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder is also very high. Estimates range between 30 and 50 percent of cigarettes sold annually in the US to be purchased by people with mental issues.
One study found out that people who suffer from mental disorders are also the primary consumers of the nicotine delivery devices. They are twice more likely to try an e-cigarette and three times more likely to vape regularly than those without mental problems. The reasons for using different types of vapes (Vapingdaily gives more information) are the same smokers have – to minimize potential harm to their health and to break the tobacco habit.
Nicotine Dependence or Why People Smoke/Vape
I bet you’ve used this as an excuse for keeping smoking or vaping: “It helps me relax and cope with stress.” It’s partly true.
Nicotine promotes the production of serotonin and dopamine that boost the feelings of calmness and joy. Studies have shown that it can suppress the symptoms of such conditions as depression, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit disorder.
This may be old news, but we can’t overlook that. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. In the beginning, its consumption can really relax your muscles, decrease anger and stress, and improve mood.
But regular doses cause changes in your brain. Once your brain doesn’t get the chemical it’s used to, you start to experience withdrawal symptoms. These include enhanced irritability, anxiety, and depression. That’s why it’s so hard for people with a history of mental disturbances to break this vicious cycle.
Smoking, Vaping, and Mental Health
Nicotine and stress
Stress is quite a common problem. It affects us when we feel unable to deal with unwanted pressure. Its major symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
You already know that if your brain gets something it’s addicted from, it calms down for a short time. In the state of stress, smoking or vaping can act as a soothing therapy. But its effect fades too fast. That’s why some people start to smoke more cigarettes in such situations. It only deepens their nicotine addiction.
Nicotine and anxiety
Long-term stress can lead to anxiety. The effect of smoking or vaping on your psychological condition is the same as during stress. Nicotine helps you to reduce tension. But it deals effectively neither with the symptoms of anxiety nor with the underlying causes.
Nicotine and depression
The attempts to stop smoking are tougher for smokers with depression as they experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. The level of dopamine that is responsible for positive feelings is low in depressed people. As you already know, nicotine stimulates the release of this chemical.
There’s one biggest disadvantage of smoking or vaping in this case. With time, the brain starts to make less and less dopamine which is especially rough for those suffering from depression. That’s a sure way for heavier tobacco consumption.
Nicotine and schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia smoke or vape in order to ease some of the symptoms associated with their mental states and reduce some of the side effects of their medication. There’re no proven facts that these habits can be solely responsible for developing schizophrenia or other mental illness.
However, it can have a short-time negative effect. But it is not caused by nicotine. The following situation may be familiar to you.
You’re at work and decide to have a break. You take your best vape, go outside, and start to blow the clouds of vapor enjoying the moment of relaxation. Suddenly, someone loudly complains that they don’t want you to vape around them. The arguments start from the harm you make to people and may sometimes end with personal verbal attacks. Some are too rude to mention here. Even explaining to the offender that vaping is not as harmful as they think doesn’t always help.