Smoking Cessation Associated With Mental Health Benefits Equal to Antidepressants


Research from the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and King’s College find that quitting smoking is associated with reduced depression, anxiety & stress and improved mood & quality of life.  “The effect size seems as large for those with psychiatric disorders as those without,” the study concludes, “The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.”

Article →
Taylor, G., McNeill, A., Girling, A., Farley, A., et al; Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. Online February 13, 2014. doi:

Of further interest:
Quitting smoking reduces stress, depression and anxiety (The Conversation)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I don’t personally have a problem with saying quitting smoking is beneficial to one’s mental health. But It certainly seems like there is very little control of variables, or actual valid science, in this long paper.

    Plus, as a person who had a desire to quit smoking, was given Wellbutrin, which didn’t work for smoking cessation. So I was abruptly taken off it, which is a no-no because it’s not actually a “safe smoking cessation med,” it’s a dangerous antidepressant. And this resulted in brain zaps, powerful dreams, and an unusual sexual side effects. And these drug withdrawal symptoms were the etiology of what was then MISdiagnosed, according to the “holy” DSM-IV-TR “bible” itself, as a “life long incurable genetic mental illness,” “bipolar disorder.” Despite the fact I had zero personal or family history of any mental health issues.

    And I’ve read Chantix is even more deadly than the “bipolar” inducing Wellbutrin. I find it rather shocking that no where in this long article did they even consider, as a variable, whether people were put on these mind altering drugs, that are apparently false marketed to doctors as “safe smoking cessation meds.”

    It strikes me that might be a relevant variable, or at least important information regarding the validity of the study. And it’d be interesting to learn how many others have had ADRs to smoking cessation meds MISdiagnosed as mental illnesses, I know there are likely many others.

    I do hope psychiatrists do not use this article to railroad others onto Wellbutrin and Chantix.

    By the way, I did finally quit smoking. Yeah! But not with the help of doctors.

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    • Good for you! I have to say, it occurred to me that part of the picture may be that quitting gives one a sense of accomplishment, of being successful in getting out from under the “control” of this particular substance. My experience as a counselor and advocate tells me that people feel better when more in control of their lives. (Which the biggest reason I find psychiatry so abhorrent – it does the opposite!) What do you think of that possibility?

      —- Steve

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