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Smoking and Mental Health

21 August 2018 - Dr Jan Orman

Between 2007 and 2010 smoking rates in the general community dropped from 26% to 19%. For people with psychotic disorders the rate did not drop at all.

People with severe mental health disorders also smoke more than those without. Could this be why they have more difficulty quitting?

Physical impact of smoking

People with mental illness have considerably shorter life spans than those without and much of their increased mortality is due to smoking related disease. It’s complicated by the metabolic effects of the drugs they need to take to manage their mental illness but the effects of smoking are unquestionable.

Mental health benefits of not smoking

The really interesting thing is that the studies suggest that mental health improves after smoking across the spectrum of mental illness. A review an meta-analysis by Taylor et al published in the BMJ in 2014 https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g1151 reported that “Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke. The effect size seems as large for those with psychiatric disorders as those without. The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.”

So, surely we should be more involved in smoking cessation for our patients.

Its not just about cancer and cardiovascular disease. It’s not just the “GPs section” – it’s about better mental health as well.

To learn more about effects of smoking on mental health please register for our webinar: Smoking Cessation and Mental Health - Quit Using the Word 'Quit'.

Dr Jan Orman
Dr Jan Orman

Jan is Sydney GP, private psychological medicine practitioner in Sydney’s inner west and a GP educator for Black Dog Institute.

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