The idea of quitting smoking does not seem like a happy one to most smokers. It seems like a difficult one–an impossible feat even, especially under the knowledge of it being a powerful addiction.
We know that losing the cigarettes is healthy for the body, but scientists have never really known if it makes us happier. The going school of thought is that smokers use cigarettes to ease anxiety and depression. But a new study has provided some good insight here. Tracking symptoms of depression in people trying to quit smoking, it found that they were never happier than when they were being successful.
Study Looks at Effects of Quitting Smoking
The researchers recommend that smokers embrace quitting as a step toward improving mental as well as physical health. Quitting is not, as some smokers may fear, a grim psychological sacrifice to be made for the sake of one’s health. Depression is not going to strike when you take away the crutch of smoking. They found that even if someone quits for a little while, their mood during that time is elevated greatly.
The results come from a group of 236 adults seeking to quit smoking (also heavy social drinkers). They received nicotine patches and counseling on quitting and agreed to a “quit date.” They took a test of depression symptoms a week before the quit date and then two, eight, 16 and 28 weeks after that date.
In all, 207 showed one of four different quitting behaviors: 99 never quit; 44 quit for only two weeks; 33 had quit by the eight-week checkup; and 33 had quit smoking for the entire study period.
Of those who quit temporarily, their moods were clearly brightest when they were still in the process of quitting. Then, after returning to smoking, their mood darkened. The strong correlation in time between increased happiness and abstinence is a telltale sign that the two go hand-in-hand.
Those who never quit remained the unhappiest of all. And those who quit and stuck with it were the happiest to begin with, and kept that elevated mood throughout.
The researchers believe that smoking can never be an effective way to medicate negative feelings and depression, even if some smokers believe it. The opposite is, in fact, true: quitting eases depressive symptoms. Quitting smoking can act in the same way as a regular therapy of antidepressants.
Just another reason to quit and live better.