Most people are aware of the physical health risks of smoking tobacco, but research shows that smoking also affects people’s mental health. Here are some mental health problems associated with smoking at a glance.

Smoking and addiction: The biological factors involved in smoking relate to how the brain responds to nicotine. When a person smokes, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain within about ten seconds. At first, nicotine improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite.Regular doses of nicotine lead to changes in the brain, which then lead to nicotine withdrawal symptoms when the supply of nicotine decreases. Smoking temporarily reduces these withdrawal symptoms and can therefore reinforce the habit. This cycle is how most smokers become nicotine dependent.

Cigarette smoking is also associated with increased risk of illegal drugs/substance use, which may lead to various substance use disorders including psychosis. Research also says that cigarette smoking increased the likelihood of relapse among people in recovery from substance use disorders. 

Stress: There is a strange relationship between smoking and stress. The idea that people smoke cigarettes to help ease the signs and symptoms of stress is known as ‘self-medication’. Stress is very common, affecting us when we feel unable to cope with unwelcome pressure. It can cause physical symptoms like headaches or breathlessness, anxious or low feeling. These feelings can alter our behaviour and feeling stressed often makes people drink alcohol or smoke more than usual. 

Smoking and anxiety: Research into smoking and stress has shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling of relaxation is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings. Smoking reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to the symptoms of anxiety, but it does not reduce anxiety or deal with the underlying causes. 

Smoking and depression: Study shows that smoking rates among adults with depression are about twice as high as among adults without depression. People with depression have particular difficulty when they try to stop smoking and have more severe withdrawal symptoms during attempts to give up.

There is a complex relationship between depression and smoking. Smoking may lead to the development of depression and depressed people may have excess smoking. How does it work actually ? Nicotine stimulates the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in triggering positive feelings. It is often found to be low in people with depression, who may then use cigarettes as a way of temporarily increasing their dopamine supply. However, smoking encourages the brain to switch off its own mechanism for making dopamine so in the long term the supply decreases, which in turn prompts people to smoke more.

Other serious mental disorders: People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to smoke than other people and they tend to smoke more heavily. One of the most common explanations of this is that people with schizophrenia use smoking to control or manage some of the symptoms associated with their illness and to reduce some of the side effects of their medication. 

Smokers also have an increased risk of dementia, a condition that can affect memory, thinking abilities, language skills, judgement, and behavior. It may also cause personality changes. Study also shows that the longer you smoke, the higher your risk of greater age-related brain volume loss.

Bangladesh perspective: Currently, Bangladesh is one of the largest tobacco-consuming countries in the world, where an estimated 46 million adults were users of a variety of smoked and/or smokeless tobacco products.
According to the national mental health survey, Bangladesh 2018-19:  Nearly 17% of adults in Bangladesh are suffering from mental health issues, where 16.8% are man and 17 % are woman. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Additionally, it’s been determined that declining brain health, stroke, lung disease, heart disease, and cancer are all linked to cigarette smoking.Smokers in the household count to 41% and substance abuse is 1%, said the report. 

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Additionally, it’s been determined that declining brain health, stroke, lung disease, heart disease, and cancer are all linked to cigarette smoking. The good news is that, with time, quitting smoking can reverse many of the negative effects of smoking.

Ways to quit smoking: Stopping smoking suddenly through willpower alone is the least effective way to quit. Stopping is more likely to be successful if you plan ahead, have support and choose the right time to try. As smoking is often used as a way of coping, smokers need other ways of dealing with stress, anxiety or other problems if they want to stop smoking. Methods that people have found helpful include meditation and breathing exercises, regular exercise. Getting support from family and friends is also very important. Taking therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT), Nicotine replacement therapy and medication may help out for smokers to quit. 

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