How smoking may affect mental health, shows study

How smoking may affect mental health, shows study

People who smoke are in a greater risk of suffering from psychiatric illnesses compared to those who had begun smoking in the early decades, says a recently published study, titled “Changing relationships between smoking and psychiatric disorders across twentieth century birth cohorts: clinical and research implications.”

The study by a team of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), published online in the Molecular Psychiatry on January 26, 2016, compiled data that showed evidence of increasing rate of mental disorders among smokers. The research pointed out that the number of young smokers in the United States has decreased considerably in the past few years. However, it points out that people who smoke have a risk of psychiatric problems.

Lead author Dr. Ardesheer Talati, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology (in psychiatry) at CUMC and NYSPI told Eurekalert.org, “These findings suggest that today’s adolescent and young adult smokers may benefit from mental health screening so that any related psychiatric or substance use problems can be identified and addressed early.”

The study was based on analysis of data from 25,000 people who participated in the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Stressing on the smoking cessation practices implemented by the U.S. government, Dr. Katherine Keyes, assistant professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and co-author of the study, said, “Given that mental health problems are also predictive of unsuccessful efforts to reduce or quit smoking, these findings suggest that cessation efforts that treat both withdrawal from nicotine and underlying mental health conditions are increasingly crucial.”

In another study, titled “Does tobacco use cause psychosis? Systematic review and meta-analysis,” based on analysis of data from 61 observational studies involving almost 15,000 tobacco users and 273,000 non-users, carried out by researchers at King’s College London and published online on July 9, 2015 in journal The Lancet Psychiatry, it was revealed that people who suffer from psychosis are three times more likely to smoke, though the reasons for the same are unclear.

As the research findings interpreted that daily tobacco use is associated with increased risk of psychosis and an earlier age at onset of psychotic illness, it was suggested by the scientists that smoking may have a causal role in psychosis along with other factors, both genetic and environmental. Furthering the findings of the research, Dr James H. MacCabe, clinical senior lecturer in psychosis studies at King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London and co-author of the study, said, “While it is always hard to determine the direction of causality, our findings indicate that smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis, and not dismissed simply as a consequence of the illness.”

Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at the IoPPN, added, “Excess dopamine is the best biological explanation we have for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia. It is possible that nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine, causes psychosis to develop.”

Road to recovery

Though the research has not been able to find the correlation and link between daily smoking, nicotine dependence and development of psychiatric disorders, there is significant evidence to point out that nicotine smoking is indeed one of the biggest addictions the world faces. America’s painful tryst with mental illness also needs to be looked at by the government, law enforcement officials and epidemiologists.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any addiction, you must seek experts’ guidance to fight it out at the earliest. You may seek help from the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California’s 24/7 helpline. Reach us at 855-972-9459 or via online chat for further information.

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