Stop smoking – antidepressant effects?
Smoking cessation is associated with improved mental health, even among patients with psychiatric conditions, according to a BMJ meta-analysis.
Researchers reviewed 26 longitudinal studies that measured mental health immediately before smoking cessation and at least 6 weeks afterward. Average follow-up periods in these studies ranged from 6 to 12 months.
Compared with those who continued to smoke, those who quit had significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, psychological quality of life, and positive affect.
These findings were the same across many different groups studied, including those who were psychiatric patients, those who had a baseline high level of stress, those who were depressed, those who were anxious. See the chart of results to the right.
The researchers wanted to put the magnitude of this beneficial effect into some kind of context. They compared the magnitude of the positive effect of quitting smoking on mood improvement to the improved mood seen in antidepressant studies. The effect size of quitting smoking was as large or greater as the effect of antidepressant treatment on patients with depression.
“Some people say that smoking calms their nerves, but this research shows quite conclusively that quitting smoking reduces anxiety.”
The authors concluded:
“Smokers can be reassured that stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits.”
For more on this including a very interesting video abstract follow this link –
A study published in the British Medical Journal reports that quitting smoking had a simillar positive effect on mood as an antidepressant. The researchers did an analysis of 26 studies using a technique called a “meta-analysis” and looked at changes in mental health (anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, quality
of life, positive affect, and stress) at ≥6 weeks’ post–smoking cessation compared with changes after the same amount of time among people who continued to smoke.
In the studies, at between 6 and 12 months after smoking cessation, smoking cessation, compared with continued smoking, was associated with significant decreases in anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, and stress and significant increases in psychological quality of life and positive affect
(all measured via questionnaires). The effect size was similar between participants from general populations and those with physical or psychiatric illnesses.
In his review in the New England Journal of Medicine’s Journal Watch, Paul S. Mueller, MD, MPH, FAC writes that –
In this study, smoking cessation was associated with improved mental health outcomes. Although these observational associations do not prove causality, they do challenge widely held beliefs that smoking relieves psychological symptoms and that trying to quit smoking aggravates such symptoms….these results should inspire us to be more proactive in encouraging smoking cessation among patients with anxiety and depression.
The review article itself is
Taylor G et al. Change in mental health after smoking cessation: Systematic
review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2014 Feb 13; 348:g1151.
Smoking Cessation Linked With Multiple Mental Health Benefits, Study Finds
This article is reposted from the American Psychiatric Association News by permission
Stopping smoking is associated with significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, positive affect, and psychological quality of life. And the strength of the association appears to be similar for both the general population and clinical populations, including those with psychiatric disorders, according to findings from a meta-analysis reported in the British Medical Journal by Paul Aveyard, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues.
The meta-analysis included 26 studies that measured subjects’ mental health before and after they quit smoking. The studies examined six measures of mental health: anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, positive affect, psychological quality of life, and stress. Eleven of the studies were cohort studies, 14 were secondary analyses of cessation interventions, and one was a randomized trial.
“This study illustrates the importance of providing tobacco-cessation treatment to individuals with behavioral health conditions, to help with both improvement in symptoms of mental illness and overall physical health,” Lori Raney, M.D., told Psychiatric News. “Psychiatrists have an important role to play in assisting in this treatment and can provide guidance and support to patients and in helping our colleagues in other medical settings.” In addition to being medical director of Axis Health System in Durango, Colo., Raney has a special interest in the relationship between smoking cessation and mental health.
More information about the importance of smoking cessation for patients with mental illness can be found in the Psychiatric News articles “Decline in Smoking Lags Among Patients With Mental Illness” and “Smoking Cessation for Patients Called an Urgent Priority.”