Quitting smoking is in some ways more strongly associated with improvements in people’s mental health than is the use of antidepressant medications, according to research in BMJ Open.
The UK-based researchers reviewed 26 studies that assessed people’s mental health with standardized questionnaires before and after quitting smoking, including up to nine years after smoking cessation.
“Anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, and stress significantly decreased between baseline and follow-up in quitters compared with continuing smokers,” the researchers wrote. “Both psychological quality of life and positive affect significantly increased between baseline and follow-up in quitters compared with continuing smokers.” They also found that these differences were consistent in both the general population and in people who’d been diagnosed with physical or psychiatric disorders.
“Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke,” they concluded. “The effect sizes are equal or larger than those of antidepressant treatment for mood and anxiety disorders.”
Taylor, Gemma, Ann McNeill, Alan Girling, Amanda Farley, Nicola Lindson-Hawley, and Paul Aveyard. “Change in Mental Health after Smoking Cessation: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMJ 348 (February 13, 2014): g1151. doi:10.1136/bmj.g1151. (Full text)