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