Smoking and Mental Illness
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Cigarette Smoking and Mental Illness
by Dan

A high incidence of people with mental illness smoke cigarettes. There is evidence that smoking is a form of self-medication, since it appears to reduce anxiety, sedation, and improves concentration in some people. The nicotine in a cigarette can have a calming effect, can increase alertness and improve memory.

However, four thousand chemical compounds have been found in cigarette smoke including fertilizers, pesticides such as DDT, insecticides such as malathion, 40 carcinogenic chemicals, 1000 flavoring agents, and 600 additives.

Plus, studies have shown that smoking increases psychotic symptoms because antipsychotic drugs are flushed out of the body quicker due to the effects smoking has on kidneys.

An extremely high percentage of mentally ill people smoke.



Bipolar Disorder 70%
Major Depression 60%
Schizophrenia 90%
Panic Disorder 56%
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 60%



Nicotine can act either as a stimulant or a depressant depending on dose and history of use. Today, scientists are researching nicotine receptors in the central nervous system. The reason why many depressed people feel better after smoking a cigarette is that they are correcting a chemical imbalance altered temporarily by nicotine.

The downside of nicotine is that it is extremely addictive, and appears to act chemically like hard drug addictions. New synthetic drugs are being tested which seem to sidestep the negative effects of nicotine. One drug in early human trials is showing promise as a very effective pain medication.

A handful of other drugs designed to target nicotine receptors are being tested in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that the administration of nicotine can improve memory and attention in these patients.


Gerald started smoking at a very young age. He suffered from depression and smoking helped him feel calm. After a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in his late teens he started to smoke more.

As the years passed, and knowing all the dangers of smoking, he tried to quit smoking many times. At age 32 he had trouble breathing. He quit again, this time he using nicotine replacement therapy. He chose nicotine lozenges. He followed the 12 week program as it was stated in the instruction manual. After 12 weeks of success, he only used a lozenge here and there for slight cravings.

As the weeks turned into months, Gerald's cravings for a cigarette diminished. He began eating very healthy, cutting sugar out of his diet and counting calories until his body adjusted to his new lifestyle. Today Gerald can breathe without a problem, has no smoker's cough, no longer smells like smoke, has more time to do what he enjoys, and has saved a considerable amount of money.

The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


20 Minutes After Quitting:
Blood pressure drops to normal
Pulse rates drop to normal
Temperature of hands and feet increases to normal

8 Hours After Quitting:
Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

24 Hours After Quitting:
Chance of heart attack decreases

48 Hours After Quitting:
Nerve endings start regrowing
Ability to smell and taste is enhanced

2 Weeks to 3 Months After Quitting:
Circulation improves
Walking becomes easier
Lung function increases up to 30%

1 to 9 Months After Quitting:
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decrease
Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, reduce infection
Overall energy increases

1 Year After Quitting:
Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker

5 Years After Quitting:
Stroke risk in reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5-15 years after quitting
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is half that of a smoker
10 Years After Quitting:
Lung cancer death rate about half of a continuing smoker's
Precancerous cells are replaced
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decrease

15 Years After Quitting:
Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker




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