Emotional Effects of Smoking

Whilst most people are aware of the negative physical effects of smoking, the emotional effects of smoking are often overlooked. The emotional effects of smoking are linked to Nicotine and its effect on Dopamine in the brain. 

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that plays a major role in emotional responses and reward motivated behaviour. Due to this effect, smokers initially feel a sense of relaxation, reduction of stress and anxiety.

However, regular doses of Nicotine can cause the smoker to start feeling withdrawal symptoms. As a result, people predisposed to anxiety disorders may find that their symptoms are more severe from smoking long term.

The Impact Of Nicotine On The Brain And Central Nervous System

Within 8 to 10 seconds of inhaling a cigarette, Nicotine causes; increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and a higher level of alertness. At first, nicotine can cause a feeling of relaxation and a feeling of stress relief. However, over time, due to the strong addiction that Nicotine causes, these effects get milder and withdrawals start to occur. 

This can lead to greater feelings of stress and anxiety and may be far worse for those predisposed to mood disorders.

The Relationship Between Stress And Smoking

It is common for smokers who experience stress to self medicate with smoking. Whilst smokers feel that cigarettes can ease feelings of stress and anxiety, it is actually proven that the opposite is true, and that smoking can cause heightened feelings of stress and anxiety due to withdrawals from Nicotine. 

There have also been studies that show that most people that smoke are more stressed than non-smokers although it is not proven whether highly stressed individuals take up smoking or if the stress is the result of smoking.

Why Do People Smoke 

Emotional Effects of Smoking

It’s hard to say why anybody smokes but there is evidence to suggest that people predisposed to mood disorders such as stress, anxiety and depression are more likely to start smoking. Factors such as peer pressure and the need to fit in play an important role. 

Once someone that experiences stress or anxiety has their first cigarette, they may experience feelings of relaxation and a decrease in stress from the release of Dopamine in the brain. This can be a contributing factor for them to continue smoking.

Can Smoking Affect Your Mood

Within the first ten seconds of smoking a cigarette, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain. This causes the smoker to firstly feel an improvement in their mood, followed by better concentration and may even relax muscles. These effects over time gradually reduce and the need to smoke gets greater and the addiction gets stronger. 

Once addicted, the smoker can start to feel negative effects to their mood unless they are smoking and this is due to withdrawals from Nicotine.

Does Smoking Relieve Stress And Anxiety

Smoking can relieve feelings of stress and anxiety but only in the short term. Self-medicating with smoking to relieve stress and anxiety can be a negative long term strategy as it creates a strong addiction to nicotine. 

A strong addiction to nicotine can lead to other serious health issues as cigarettes are known to cause lung cancer and heart disease. When trying to quit smoking, stress and anxiety can be greatly increased and that is one of the reasons that people find it hard to quit smoking.

Stuck On Quitting? Here Is How To Quit Smoking Easily

If you are planning on quitting smoking and experience stress, anxiety or depression, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) can be a good option for you. NRT can allow you to have Nicotine without the smoke, tar and other harmful chemicals associated with smoking. This can make it possible to avoid the increase in stress and anxiety that withdrawals to Nicotine can cause. 

Studies in the U.K have shown that vaping can be a successful way to quit smoking when compared to patches as it replicates the action of smoking and delivers Nicotine with a range of flavours available. 

There are many options available for NRT so if you find going “cold turkey” unachievable, then speak with your health care professional or local vape shop for advice on the best option for you.


Author’s Bio 

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care.

He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as eCig For Life, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.