6 Ways Your Mental Health Will Improve When You Stop Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is widely known to be extremely harmful to your physical health, but it can impact your mental health, too. Cigarette smoking can make you more stressed and anxious, contribute to depression symptoms, and reduce your overall quality of life. While quitting isn’t easy, your physical and mental health will thank you. Here are 6 mental health benefits of quitting smoking.

1. Less Stress and Anxiety

Many smokers want to stop smoking, but they find it hard to do so because having a cigarette provides them with temporary relief for anxiety and stress. While it is a popular belief that cigarettes can reduce stress, the truth is that smoking increases stress and anxiety. Many smokers even report increased anxiety after their smoking session is over.[1]

When you first stop smoking, your stress levels and feelings of anxiety may shoot through the roof. This is because you are in withdrawal. However, as your body adjusts to not needing nicotine, you will notice that your overall stress and anxiety levels go down. You may still crave a cigarette during stressful situations, but overall, you’re likely to see a major improvement.

2. Reduced Depression

People who struggle with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are more likely to start smoking even though smoking can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. At the same time, people who struggle with mental illnesses like depression are more likely to have a difficult time quitting smoking.[2] But, smoking cessation can actually improve depression symptoms and reduce feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and isolation.[3] The NHS even goes as far as to say stopping smoking can be as effective as antidepressants for some people.[4]

3. Increased Self-Esteem and Confidence

Quitting smoking is a major accomplishment. While many smokers want to quit smoking, very few are actually able to do so. The CDC published data on smoking cessation that revealed that 68% of adult smokers want to quit smoking and 55.1% made an attempt to quit smoking in the past year. However, only 7.5% successfully quit smoking in the past year before the survey.[5]

If you are able to successfully stop smoking, you may experience a massive sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment. Achieving this goal is no easy task and you deserve to be proud of yourself. After successfully quitting, you may also become more confident and have higher self-esteem. This can improve your mood and mental health.

4. Improved Quality of Life

According to the CDC, quitting smoking is associated with a decrease in depression, anxiety, and stress, therefore, quitting can increase your overall quality of life.[3] When you quit smoking, you’ll be able to breathe better and dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. You’ll have more energy throughout the day and feel better in general. With fewer mental health symptoms and a confidence boost, you may find that you are happier and healthier when you put the cigarettes away.

There are other ways quitting smoking can improve your quality of life, too, many of which you probably don’t even realize. When you stop smoking, you no longer have to step away from gatherings to smoke a cigarette, worry about the smell on your clothes, or take money out of your spending budget to pay for cigarettes. You’ll have more time to spend with family, less to worry about, and more money in your pocket.

5. Better Sleep

Nicotine is a stimulant drug, so smoking can give you temporary energy and mask feelings of fatigue. However, it also disrupts sleep and can increase your risk for sleep-related respiratory disorders such as sleep apnea.[6] Poor sleep and fatigue can contribute to high stress levels, depression, and mood swings.

While you may struggle with insomnia when you first stop smoking due to withdrawal, your body will adjust and, eventually, you will get higher quality sleep which will ultimately benefit your mental health.[7]

6. More Effective Mental Health Medications

If you are someone who takes psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety drugs, your mental health depends largely on the efficacy of your medications. Smoking can interact and interfere with psychiatric medications, making them less effective, often resulting in the need for higher doses of the medication to achieve a therapeutic effect. The CDC reports that there is also growing evidence that quitting smoking is associated with improved outcomes in behavioral health treatment.[3]

Regardless of the current mental health treatments you are receiving, quitting smoking can make those treatments more effective and improve your mental health.

Quit Smoking For Your Mental Health

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, people who have serious mental health issues are more likely to smoke than the general population, despite the fact that doing so can worsen their existing symptoms. But, it’s never too late to quit and transform your life for the better.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683289/
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/193305
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/what-we-know/behavioral-health-conditions/index.html
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/stopping-smoking-mental-health-benefits/
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/smoking-cessation-fast-facts/index.html
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19345124/
  7. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6929-4

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