People experiencing mental health issues face extreme stress. For the majority smoking is the “go to” to try and help them cope with life challenges and manage their stress levels.
Most adults are aware of the physical health risks from smoking tobacco, but research shows that smoking can also affect your mental health.
The idea that you smoke to help ease signs and symptoms of stress and/or anxiety is known as “self-medication”. We tell ourselves smoking helps us cope with unwelcomed pressures and then we end up smoking more.
However, research into smoking and stress and anxiety has shown that instead of reducing anxiety, it actually increases it. How? By causing you to develop a higher nicotine dependence, which results in increased anxiety and irritation when you suffer withdrawal symptoms.
So how do you quit? Stopping smoking suddenly without support and going “cold turkey” is the least effective way to quit. The key is planning ahead, mentally preparing yourself and using behavioural support.
E-cigarettes are the most popular tool for quitting smoking. They are also highly effective when combined with specialist support.
Fortunately, the majority of mental health trusts in England have followed UK government advice, and now allow and support the use of electronic cigarettes. Many provide the devices for free. Some are also running trials which combine free electronic cigarettes with expert support to help you maximise the chances of switching.
For local help, it’s also well worth popping into your local vape store for support and advice.