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Smoking Cessation's Mental Health Benefits Rival Those of Antidepressants — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 14, 2014

Smoking Cessation's Mental Health Benefits Rival Those of Antidepressants

By Amy Orciari Herman

Smoking cessation is associated with improved mental health, even among patients with psychiatric conditions, according to a BMJ meta-analysis.

Researchers examined data from 26 longitudinal studies that measured mental health immediately before smoking cessation and at least 6 weeks afterward. Median follow-up ranged from 6 to 12 months.

Compared with participants who continued to smoke, those who quit had significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, psychological quality of life, and positive affect. Findings were similar across subgroups, including patients with physical or psychiatric disorders.

The researchers note that the mental health benefits seen with cessation were at least as large as those seen with antidepressants in previous meta-analyses. They conclude: "Whether or not smoking cessation directly causes the observed improvement in mental health, there are direct clinical implications. Smokers can be reassured that stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits."

Reader Comments (1)

Kent Wenger, MD Physician, Psychiatry, Private office

One view is anyone who can rally the self awareness, the desire to help oneself, the effort and determination to change a major habit that broadly connects to many areas of life, and reap the positive self-image, seems by definition to be not depressed, becoming not depressed, or has recently gotten better. Same results correlate with ANY such life change, or is there something unique with nicotine cessation?

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