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."
As it goes, I've suffered from mental health issues for as long as I can remember. I started smoking when i was 14 and always thought it was helping to relieve my stress levels. But after choosing to stop 2 years ago i have found i am much less depressed and moody. I'm not proclaiming "I'M CURED!" from the rooftops or anything, but not worrying about having to have money for tobacco products has certainly removed a large amount of stress from my life.
But I think that actually CHOOSING to stop helps with the stress level too. I think the whole situation can be made worse by being forced into it.
Oh, and if you do choose to quit today (or any day) I find that picturing Â£300,000 (or $) on fire on your coffee table to represent what you've spent on tobacco over the years, tends to help strengthen the old resolve!