lhsi writes "A recent publication on the British Medical Journal finds that stopping smoking improves mental health: "Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis" (CC BY-NC 3.0).
A lot of smokers claim that smoking has mental health benefits; reducing depression and anxiety, and for relaxation and relieving stress. However the study suggests this is likely mis-attributing the ability of cigarettes to abolish nicotine withdrawal as a beneficial effect on mental health. The study notes that some health professionals are reluctant to recommend stopping smoking as a way to help mental health problems due to the fear that it might make things worse, but this study suggests that it actually would help.
The main conclusion of the study:
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."
I quite over 2 years ago using a combination of Chantix and Wellbutrin for 3 months. They both took enough of the edge off to finally be done with it.
With that said, during the first 6 months to a year, I suffered from horrible mood swings. Alcohol made it much worse. I'd go from laid back and chill to raging pissed off in a split second and then into depression because I couldn't keep it together.
All that is long behind me now, but I most definitely did not have less anxiety or better mental health initially. As for today, I can't tell much difference from back when I smoked 2-3 packs a day. YMMV.
Chantix helped me quit but gave me a lingering, deep depression for about a year. If you only had mood swings I'd say you were lucky. I simply wasn't able to feel cheerful, and I can't imagine how the effects are for somebody who already suffers from depression. It's mind-boggling to me that the drug's been approved for human consumption.
I stopped cold-turkey when I got back surgery, the a year later, guess what? I'm bipolar. Had the same rapid cycling, punched holes in the wall, destroyed the vacuum cleaner and other inanimate objects. Finally got diagnosed and treatment, but I'm going to be on on psychoactive drugs the rest of my life.
And I miss those cigarettes every day.