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Quitting smoking with depression or mental health concerns



Individuals who have depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or other mental health concerns are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who do not have these conditions to cope with.

It is important to note that there will most likely be flare ups of mental health symptoms when these individuals stop smoking, a challenge that quitters without mental health issues do not have to contend with.

Are you struggling with depression or other mental health conditions? Do you want to quit smoking successfully? The good news is, you most certainly can! Since you have probably dealt with your symptoms for many years, that means you have the awareness, experience and tools needed to address quit related flare ups effectively.

You can quit smoking successfully with some preparation and realistic expectations. There are side effects brought on by the withdrawal process resulting from stopping smoking. Symptoms of mental health conditions will get worse during withdrawals. This is a temporary side effect. It is unavoidable, so accept that it will occur as part of the process of stopping smoking.

Accept that the process will not be completed - meaning you will not reach the 'feeling better' part - until you remain quit for a long enough period of time for the necessary physical/emotional/hormonal/behavioral/mental adjustments to take place. Every day you do not smoke makes a huge difference, so keep going!

It is very helpful to plan ahead for all of your personal smoking triggers, both emotional and habitual. You can start today by writing down your top 10 smoking triggers. Some common triggers include nervousness, stress, sadness and boredom. What are yours?

Next, work with your doctor before your quit to formulate a plan to avoid smoking in response to each and every one of your specific smoking triggers that you wrote down. If the symptoms of your illness are under control, that means you already have good coping tools in place. That being said, additional tools will most likely be needed to get you from the withdrawal phase to the 'feeling better' phase successfully.

If your symptoms are not under control yet, it is advised to begin by getting your symptoms managed effectively before you quit. That way, your doctor can assist your quit efforts by making small adjustments to your medications, add support sessions, suggest new behaviors and coping skills in combination with the effective tools you already have in place. As a nonsmoker, your medications will work better and you feel better, too!

Here is a 'check list' to ensure a successful quit:

*Make sure your mental health issues are well under control and you have a good plan of action that addresses each and every one of your potential relapse triggers.

*Be prepared for a temporary flare up of mental health issues. Know this will occur and know how you will handle these feelings and symptoms safely and effectively.

*Work closely with your doctor to support and manage these symptoms.

*Use a support product to help you with the physical aspects of your quit.

*Have support around you every day to keep you motivated and focused.

*If you have ever quit before (even for 1 day) you did it successfully! Take every sinlge thing that has worked before and do more of it!

*Take daily action to combat mental health symptoms, including:
-activities you enjoy
-physical exercise
-good nutrition
-supportive interaction with others
-take time to relax
-celebrate your success

Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Many people quit smoking successfully who have mental health concerns. You can, too!

Vikki Q CTTS-M

Master Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist






as a person with Bi-polar, OCD, etc,yes, it is more of a challenge to quit smoking when you have mental health challenges, and mania and depression are pretty equal in the trouble they can cause... well, maybe mania wins out... but i am here to say it took me awhile, but it IS doable... i just had my 3 1/2 year anniversary... just use all the help and education on here, and make sure to let your psychciatrist and Dr. know you are quitting... sometimes med adjustments are needed, and they can direct you to more specialized help also... but never leave the Q... cause it is a "quit" saving place to be... i know... you CAN do it... JUST BELIEVE!!
Posted @ Friday, January 20, 2012 11:00 AM by IWillKeepKickinButts
and i want to add (just posted) that a couple of the greatest helps for me were journaling, as i could really work out my feelings, whether it be anger, rage, feeling good, and proud of myself, where i needed to make adjustments to my plan and support, gave me someone to talk to any time i needed, :) :), and i didn't have to worry about anything i said cause only i could see it (plus it had the added benefit of keeping my hands and mind busy, LOL) and exercise...even though being in your "shoes" as much as one can be in another shoes, i know it is hard to start an exercise program if you are depressed, but know that i did a lot of research and excercise is believed to be as good as any anti-depressant, and backed up by my psychciatrist, in helping with depression (but DO NOT go off your medication, only your Dr. can make and kind of decision about changing meds or adjusting doses, i am just saying it worked great in conjunction with my meds for me)..and never start and exercise progam without checking with your dr. but everyone has to find their own way, i am just saying what worked well for me, and those are two of the best...and exercise outdoors when you can, because sunshine has long been well know as a good "anti-depressant/mood lifter"...and of course lots and lots of support of friends and the Q... good is, again, possible even with more of a challenge already facing you...NEVER EVER GIVE UP AND NEVER NEVER GIVE IN!! Colleen
Posted @ Friday, January 20, 2012 11:16 AM by IWillKeepKickinButts
ADHD and one size fits all quitting methods are for the birds. After poisoning myself on the patch and lozenges I phoned health link, doubled my Adderall, stayed on the phone with the nurse until I started to calm down. My max cigarette intake was 8 per day. I averaged 6. Any more than that- I got nauseous and panicky. 
On Day one of the quit I got told I was going through withdrawal, but the longer I kept the patch on the sicker and more disoriented I got.The first patch stayed on untill 1030, and i was decidedly uncomefortable-I went to the pharmacy and he was adamant that I consume 2 2mg losenges. I was violently ill by the time I got home and went through a period of vomiting and shaking. I then went to my pharmacist, who looked at my records and told me to use to lowest dose patch and cut the lozenges in half and take the patch off at H.S. By 7 p.m. that night i was essentially non functional and took the patch off. my symptoms improved somewhat, but I had to take the absolute maximum dose of clonazapam and trazadone. By yesterday I had 3 full on panic attacks,had forced myself to eat a nicotine lozenge and took the patch off by 1130. 50 hours of this set off my fibromyalgia. I also sport 2 other types of inflammatory sero negative arthritis. I am now in agony, and my body reacts negatively and violently to narcotics. I had a horrible nite waiting for the nicotine to dissipate, and took 40mg Adderall SR at 0600. I persisted with my dessicated pig thyroid which is preferable to synthetics and should be used throughout the day. I have no clue what all this has done with the methotrexate and the trazadone I take at H.S for fibromyalgia and re-establishing a sleep cycle. 
I am angry and exhausted and think that there needs to be specific guidelines and considerations for chemically sensitive people. ADHD's by and large do not smoke because of nicotine deprivation. Our brains are simply not physically wired for it there is a very significant dopamine boost that occurs when smoking and it is a very fast delivery system. I see my internist today and will talk to him about it, but at the end of all this, I did everything I was told to do in the Quitcore program, heard the nicotine mantra ASKED about dopamine responses because I knew what the attraction of the cigarette was for me, and got told to persist with nicotine.  
I recall being hospitalized in my 20s for pretty much the same types of symptoms, but that was on Theophaline. Not surprisingly they aren't to far apart in morphology. No one asked me about that either. 
Well, at least my diastolic is back under 80. my typical BP is 117 on 75. Tried champix a year ago. ironically I was doing a Death and dying class at the Uni and went tachycardic- there were nursing students in there and EMT's. My one friend dragged me out and my bp was 190 on 100. Ultimately, if it is a non smoking drug, it is not for me. Took 300 mg wellbutrin 17 years ago. I quit for 9 years. got involuntary twitching, muscle pain, and a permanent case of insomnia that is only now being rectified. Someone needs to step up to the plate on this and flat out say that the multimillion dollar tobacco industry (both product and stop smoking aids) take no precaution when it comes to human lives(insomuch as the number of legal actions do not adversely impact profit). 
Minority groups who do not fit the statistical average are at significant risk. This is not to say that the minority deserves preferential treatment, but we do have the right to be warned.  
Further to this,it is my contention that if smoking cessation treatments were actively worked on, keeping with the ethos of protecting those at risk, I firmly believe that all people would benefit immensely. The products marketed now are in fact benefiting the tobacco growing industry as it stands. To the critical eye these apparently oppositional industries are in fact engaged in financial symbiosis. 
I believe I can continue with my quit, but I am needing a few days just to recover,some radial shock-wave on my trigger points (expensive)for pain, 
and massive supplements to restore a more homeostatic neurological response to stimuli. Will catch up with every one on Monday or so. I am off to lick my wounds.  
Be Well 
Posted @ Friday, February 17, 2012 10:29 AM by shannon
People may think that we found excuses, but when you are dealing with mental issues it makes it more harder to quit smoking. 
It is possible, but it does take time. I suffer from anxiety and hyperventilation, and when I quited smoking those complaints seemed worse. 
But anyway, when you can quit it gives a great boost for your selfesteem. 
Nice article. 
Kind regards, 
Tasha Smith - Treatment for depression reviewer.
Posted @ Monday, March 19, 2012 11:29 AM by Treatment for depression
I have mental illness and I have found that my depression became worse with quitting. However, my anxiety has improved since I quit. My meds are working better and my heart rate has decreased. It is hard quitting with mental health issues. But it is defiantly doable. You just have to be preprared and know what you want. Don't listen to people who tell you that you shouldn't have a hard time because everyone is different. Some quits were easy for me and some were very hard. Each person and each quit is different.
Posted @ Saturday, March 31, 2012 3:22 PM by Kewanna
All we know the bad effects of smoking. Smoking is always dangerous for health and a big cause of cancer. Although knowing all these people make smoking their hobby. It shows its effect through different health disease or problems; among them brain problem, breathing problem, lungs problems are common. We have to avoid such activity and take care of our health. If it is difficult then it is our responsible to immediate contact with health care center.
Posted @ Saturday, December 28, 2013 12:17 AM by Massen
I am a former smoker, and before I quit a smoked about a pack a day for 16 years.......When I quit smoking almost a year ago, in Feb of 2013, it caused a relapse of my major depressive disorder, and also caused new mental health problems that I had never experienced before quitting smoking, such as panic attacks and severe insomnnia...These symptoms continue almost a year later despite trials of numerous different medications....Medications that helped my depression before don't help any longer and make my anxiety and sleep problems worse...I have lost my job because I have not been able to sleep more than 2-3 hours per night since I quit....However, I have not started smoking again, despite all these issues....Has anyone ever heard of anything similar happening to anyone else?....A whole year almost is a long time to go through smoking withdrawal symtoms, and I am losing hope that my mental health will ever get better....Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated...I am being treated by a psychiatrist and a sleep specialist...Thank you in advance...!
Posted @ Friday, January 17, 2014 11:33 AM by KB
I have been diagnosed bi polar over 20  
Yrs. and I am trying to quit smoking for the past three weeks. I feel like some one is squeezing my whole body 
This is very hard to deal with! OMG 
Posted @ Monday, March 10, 2014 10:31 AM by Jim
I have depression and ptsd as well as a brain injury. After 20 years of smoking I decided to quit and it has been a nightmare ever since! I can't eat, sleep or do anything really. My dogs are driving me nuts to the point I am ready to take them to a shelter. I am so incredibly depressed and angry I just want to die I can't do this anymore!
Posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 7:11 AM by Lily
As someone with lived experience and who is in Recovery from a Psychiatric Diagnosis, I found it much easier then I thought it would be to quit smoking Cold Turkey. Being in Recovery for over 3 years, I have become more intimate with the way my mind works and developed a very good support system. Getting through the withdrawal period really was a matter of using meditation and action planning to get through it. In many ways, those of us in recovery are more prepared to give up smoking than the average "normal" undiagnosed user.
Posted @ Wednesday, August 06, 2014 5:58 AM by smartone
I was finally given a correct diagnosis of BPII this year and have been doing very well on Lamictal, weaning slowly off my SSRI. I smoke about 6 cigarettes a day. I was starting to feel good enough that I decided to quit smoking 3 days ago. Last night I had a full-blown depressive episode, complete with suicidal ideation. I haven't had an episode like that since starting the Lamictal 6 months ago and couldn't even make it to work today. This really sucks. I want to be healthier but not at the expense of my mental stability. Help!
Posted @ Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5:45 PM by KathyRN
Posted @ Tuesday, February 24, 2015 2:01 PM by Mike
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