Quitting Smoking with Mental Health Issues
If you experience mental health issues or are diagnosed with a mental illness, quitting smoking is still realistic, achievable and beneficial to your health and wellbeing.
Check out these facts about quitting smoking with a mental illness:
- People with mental health issues are just as likely to want to quit smoking as anyone else
- People suffering from a mental illness can and do quit smoking successfully
- Most of the treatments and suggestions outlined in our Quitting Methods section have the same level of benefit to people with mental illnesses
- Most ex-smokers with mental illnesses found their mental health symptoms got worse when they started smoking, but improved when they quit smoking
- It is normal to experience a low mood when you first quit – this is a common withdrawal symptom and does not just happen to people with a mental illness
Smoking and Mental Health: FAQs
If you’ve got questions or concerns about quitting smoking with a mental illness, you may find our Smoking and Mental Health FAQs helpful.
Q: I’m worried I won’t be able to cope if I quit smoking while dealing with a mental illness.
A: It can be incredibly difficult living with a mental illness and it’s common for people to use smoking as a way of coping. But here’s some amazing news:
For people suffering from mental illness, the positive mental health changes that occur after quitting smoking are usually greater compared to those without a mental illness.
When you quit smoking, anxiety, depression and stress all tend to reduce, while quality of life and positive feelings can greatly improve.
What a great reason to start your quit smoking journey!
Q: Isn’t it more difficult to quit smoking if you have a mental illness?
A: Regardless of whether or not you have a mental illness, it is normal to find it tricky to quit smoking, especially at the beginning. But you should know that there are many ways to deal with withdrawal symptoms – and the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh the challenges you might experience with trying to quit.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), for example, can help you cope with the cigarette cravings that any smoker may struggle with at first.
Click here to learn the best strategies for staying on track with your quit smoking journey
Q: Does quitting smoking affect my mental health medication?
A: The chemicals in tobacco smoke can make our bodies break down medications, including ones for mental illness, faster. This means that smokers have to take higher doses of medication for their mental illness to get the desired effect. Some of the medications used to treat schizophrenia in particular are broken down significantly faster when you smoke.
When you stop smoking, your medication may not be broken down as quickly, which can cause some unwanted symptoms. However, this often means that your dose of some types of medications can be reduced if you stop smoking.
You must talk to your doctor about your medication dose when you quit smoking, to ensure your dose is adjusted accordingly.
Q: I’d like to try the NSW Quitline, but I’m concerned I might be judged because of my mental illness.
A: You won’t be judged. NSW Quitline Advisors really do understand the struggles that smokers go through – especially those living with mental illness.
An Advisor can help you set quit smoking goals that are comfortable and achievable for you – or you can simply have a confidential chat about your situation. Why not give it a try? Call the NSW Quitline on 13 7848.
Q: Can I quit smoking if I suffer from depression?
A: Taking up smoking is more likely to lead to a diagnosis of depression. What’s more, many people find their depressive symptoms improve after quitting.
However, it should be noted that for some people, quitting smoking doesn’t eliminate or reduce their depression.
The good news is that all the quit smoking methods explained in our Quitting Methods section increase the chance of quitting smoking without worsening depression.
Why not check out the different quitting methods available to you, then talk to your doctor about the best option for your situation?
Q: Can I quit smoking if I suffer from schizophrenia?
A: Research has shown that prescribed quit smoking medications, especially Bupropion (Zyban), can increase the chances of quitting for people with schizophrenia, more so than other quit methods such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), which has not been found to provide benefit.
However, it’s very important to discuss these treatments with your doctor to make sure there are no interactions between your medications.
You can find out more about prescribed quit smoking medication by clicking here.
Getting More Information on Smoking and Mental Health
You may have some concerns about trying to quit smoking while dealing with mental health issues.
To help you, NSW Health has put together some useful information on how smoking relates to mental illness:
Click here to visit the NSW Government Health website