Change in mental health after smoking cessation

People who smoke feel that smoking reduces their stress levels, helps them concentrate and acts as dopamine. These are momentary reactions; the side effects of smoking are far more impactful. Therefore, smoking cessation is the right decision to make. Prolonged smoking sparks symptoms like depression and anxiety and eventually makes a person lonely. These negative outfalls of smoking should be reasons enough to make a one-time decision to quit smoking for life and to start a renewed life. Improving mental health, and not smoking can change one's life for the better. Smoking cessation is a decision that smokers must be prepared to make. Once they have decided and are determined to hold on to their quit-smoking choice, they must be ready to beat the withdrawal symptoms. It can be challenging to stand up against withdrawal, taking the right therapy to combat withdrawal along with conviction and family support, can help you return to a happy, mentally healthy, better quality of life, that you had missed through your smoking years.

How smoking harms mental health

Smoking adversely affects mental health in a man.

The negative effects of smoking are significant both on the mental and physical health. Smoking and mental health vary from person to person, but the relationship between smoking and mental health is closely connected and affects a person’s overall well-being. Most smokers experience depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Nicotine plays with the neurotransmitters of the brain and is hugely responsible for mood swings. Remember smoking may appear to be a stress reliever, but increasing dependency, in the long run, causes more harm than relief. With prolonged smoking, the quality of life greatly suffers. Usually with friends and family, when people are enjoying each other’s company and celebrating, a smoker is a loner who likes to keep away from the fun and frolic. Smokers generally turn reclusive and go within a shell. Unable to trigger conversations, they find it hard to communicate with people and lose the inclination to socialise. Apart from the social challenges, smokers suffer from health issues that further add to mental anxiety. An increased risk of heart disease, and respiratory disorders makes most smokers suffer from declining health. They suffer from breathlessness while climbing stairs. Aware of their failing health and the cost of smoking, they feel more depressed as they are unable to forgo the habit. Cigarettes are expensive, and smokers generally increase their smoking habit adding more financial pressure on themselves. This weighs greatly on their mental peace, causing financial anxiety. Smokers suffer from low self-esteem as smoking affects one's physical appearance. Excessive smoking has its effects on the skin, causing early aging. Teeth and nails tend to get stained with a tendency to develop gum infection. Mental health changes take place with smoking cessation. Quitting can be challenging at first, but with nicotine replacement therapy, withdrawal from smoking can be managed better.

How quitting smoking improves mental health?

When you decide to quit smoking, it is a step towards changing mental health along with several other improvements that you are inviting with this decision. Though the process of smoking cessation can be initially disturbing with withdrawal issues, in the long term, quitting smoking is one choice that you will thank yourself for. Nicotine as we discussed earlier increases anxiety and stress and adds to a person’s mental isolation. Quitting smoking decreases the adverse effects of nicotine and helps a person break free from anxiety and regain a life of normalcy. With time and nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine dependency is gradually reduced helping a person return to their pre-smoking days. Once smoking dependency is successfully overcome, a person will find themselves less depressed, mood swings will gradually recede and over time a person will feel better and happier. Able to participate normally with friends the person will be more sociable and amicable in group gatherings. This contentment is hard to find if you continue to smoke. The cognitive functions that were impaired by smoking are re-established. Also, with time, concentration and memory will improve and no longer will the urge to depend on smoking be required. Smokers suffer from schizophrenia; sleep patterns are hugely disrupted owing to the effect of nicotine. After quitting, individuals will realise what they had missed when they were addicted to smoking. They will sleep soundly for longer hours. With smoking cessation their physical appearance changes. They look more youthful, confident, and fresh, this adds more impetus to their mental health and makes them realise the impact that smoking has on their health. Physical health also starts showing improvement soon after you quit smoking. Breathing gets regulated, and lungs, heart, and general health make positive improvements. With reduced financial drainage that smoking causes, you can save better and can separate that fund for trips with family or do things that add more value to life, greatly lifting mental health. Smoking cessation increases life expectancy enabling better planning for loved ones and more savings. The will to quit smoking shows enormous mental strength and resilience within a person. The same can be demonstrated in other conditions with success. Quitting smoking is a challenging process and nicotine withdrawal is a strong urge that many may succumb to. By holding on to your conviction and with trusted products of nicotine replacement therapy, one can overcome the urge to smoke. Along with therapy, family support, professional help, counselling and support groups, individuals can make valuable changes to their health and reap its benefits for life.

How long does it take to see mental health benefits after quitting smoking?

The timeline for quitting smoking varies from individual. However, from the time they decline a cigarette, they are making a concerted effort to improve their mental health. Nicotine replacement therapy can be used for quitting smoking. Though it follows a certain timeline, various factors need to be evaluated before setting a quitting date. Smoking history, health conditions and the psychological response to withdrawal all determine the duration of quitting. Once you are determined to quit smoking, you will find changes happening to your body in the first 20 minutes, with a decrease in blood pressure level and heart rate. Within two hours, carbon monoxide content drops in the blood, allowing richer oxygen to enter the bloodstream. A difference in taste and smell will be noticeable within 12-48 hours. Nicotine withdrawal will show up in the first week. The person will feel irritable, anxious, and restless with mood swings as the body is trying to adjust to the absence of nicotine. This withdrawal is hard to withstand and most often people get back to smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy infuses nicotine in controlled doses in the body and helps an individual to wean out of nicotine withdrawal gradually rather than drastically. So, mental health is restored, and a person can safely step out of smoking without the fallouts of withdrawal. Most physical withdrawals last for a month, after that, the strong craving no longer exists, but occasional cravings may arise. Therefore, staying attached to supportive groups can be helpful. People feel the difference between a nonsmoking life from their smoking days with improved concentration and a generally good mood. Gradually symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress will begin to reduce within 3-6 months. After a year of quitting smoking the risk of heart disease is significantly low as compared to regular smokers. Within 5 -years, the person is much safer from strokes than a smoker. With 10-years of nonsmoking, you stand better and further away from cancer. All these factors and timelines will culminate to contribute to change in mental health and make a person healthy in every way.


Quitting smoking is a decision that only changes your mental health positively. Falling prey to the smoking habit invites trouble and mental agony. Nicotine addiction is hard to get away from and people, knowing the harm of smoking, continue to do so as the urge to keep away from a cigarette is hard to beat. The decision that they will need to make is whether to stick to smoking for years or quit and improve their life and change their mental health. It may be difficult to reach this decision or shall I say stick to this decision, but with nicotine replacement therapy, quitting smoking has become so much more possible. This gradual smoking cessation that tapers with time, meeting and beating smoking withdrawal, is an effective way of quitting and regaining your overall health.