It’s almost summer, and you may have forgotten about that New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. Here’s another reason to revisit it. Signs of mental well being have been shown to improve significantly 6 weeks or more after quitting.
In a systematic review of 26 studies published by the British Medical Journal†, quitting smoking was shown to improve several indicators of mental health. Questionnaires were administered to smokers before and after they quit, as well as to those who continued to smoke. Anxiety, stress, and depression decreased after quitting, while psychological quality of life improved. These positive effects of quitting continued in follow-up surveys of the former smokers, more than 6 months later.
Short term withdrawal from tobacco use may result in anxiety, irritability and depression, but after 6 weeks without smoking, the situation reverses and anxiety and depression are lower for the non-smoker. Instead of reaching for that cigarette to “relax”, pause and consider that you are likely to feel even more relaxed after you quit.
† Taylor, G., McNeill, A., Girling, A., Farley, A., Lindson-Hawley, N., Aveyard, P. (2014) Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, Feb 13; 348:g1151.