By Vivek Singh Chauhan
New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Smoking cigarettes is not merely just associated with different types of cancers or heart diseases but it can also affect your mental health, experts warned on Wednesday.
The health experts emphasized that people think smoking helps in relieving stress and anxiety, however, what they do not know is that the presence of nicotine in cigarettes can cause anxiety symptoms or make them worse.
“Research has shown that smoking initially gives a sense of relaxation and seems to relieve anxiety which is due to nicotine, which creates an immediate sense of relaxation so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety and one gets addicted to the immediate false good feeling,” Sahil Kohli, Consultant, Neurology, Narayana Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.
“However, over the long term nicotine dependence leads to mental illnesses including attention disorders, anxiety disorders and depression which becomes even worse when a dependent person tries to quit smoking,” said Kohli, on the occasion of No Smoking Day, which is observed on March 10.
A study, published in the journal Cochrane Library, showed that people who stopped smoking for at least 6 weeks experienced less depression, anxiety and stress than people who continued to smoke.
The researchers, including Gemma Taylor from the University of Bath, in the study that involved 170,000 participants also found that people who quit smoking also experienced more positive feelings and better psychological wellbeing.
“From our evidence we see that the link between smoking cessation and mood seem to be similar in a range of people and most crucially, there is no evidence that people with mental health conditions will experience a worsening of their health if they stop smoking,” Taylor said.
Smoking is the world’s leading cause of preventable illness and death. However, some people believe that quitting might exacerbate mental health problems.
“Quitting smoking potentially saves one from stroke, associated heart health issues and anxiety, which tend to get severe with mental health problems,” said Rajul Aggrawal, Senior Consultant, Neurologist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.
As per a World Health Organization (WHO) report released in October 2020, there are approximately 120 million smokers in India that account for 12 per cent of the world’s total smoking population.
The report stated that each year, over 1 million people die in India due to the consumption of tobacco. Of the total Indian smoking population, 70 per cent of the adult males in India smoke while the number of adult female smokers is between 13 to 15 per cent.
(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be contacted at [email protected])