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Quit this Stoptober and feel happier



This World Mental Health Day (10th Oct) smokers in the North East are being urged to consider how quitting smoking could improve their health but also their happiness.


It's Stoptober and thousands of people across the country are nearly two weeks into quitting. Stress is often cited as a reason to smoke – but evidence shows stopping can be as effective as anti-depressants in reducing depression, anxiety and stress.


Research also shows ex-smokers who have stopped for a year or more are happier than current smokers and similar to never smokers.


With many people feeling that their mental health has worsened since the start of lockdown, Fresh is highlighting its concerns for smokers during these worrying times.


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "This year, World Mental Health Day is encouraging the public to Do One Thing to improve their mood and mental health. I urge anyone who smokes and is experiencing low mood to give quitting a go. It is the best thing you can possibly do for your health.


"The past few months have been tough on many of us and it is a worry that the added emotional pressures of Covid-19 and lockdown may result in some people smoking more.


"Even though some people believe smoking helps with stress, it can make it worse as the feeling of relaxation is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms which are similar to the feeling of anxiety.


"For anyone who has a mental health condition, smoking is not a good way to manage it and can even make some psychiatric medication less effective.


She added: "If you smoke, the prospect of short-term withdrawal can be quite scary even if the long-term benefits are worthwhile. If you are quitting, the best thing you can do is to make sure you get enough nicotine through NRT or a vaping device to see you through and make sure you don't go back to smoking tobacco."


Smoking rates among people with a mental health condition are significantly higher than in the general population and there is a strong association between smoking and mental health conditions, which become stronger relative to the severity of the mental health condition, with the highest levels of smoking found in psychiatric in-patients.


It is estimated that around 30% of smokers in the UK have a mental health condition, and more than 40% of adults with a serious mental illness smoke.


It is not clear whether smoking is the cause or effect of mental health conditions. However, there is some evidence that smoking could act as a trigger for mental ill-health.


Partly a result of high smoking rates, people with a mental health condition have high mortality rates compared to the general population. Therefore, quitting smoking is particularly important for this group since smoking is the single largest contributor to their 10-20-year reduced life expectancy.

Source – Action on Smoking and Health