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People who are suffering from behavioral conditions or mental health disorders are likely to smoke.The nicotine in cigarette improves mood and concentration, reduces anger and stress, and relaxes the muscles.But do the positive effects last and are they worth the risk of developing other diseases?
Chemical Interaction with the Brain
Smoking and mental illness have been linked by experts to several factors with biochemistry playing a major part.The chemical nicotine is like a drug experienced by smokers, with or without mental illness, according to Dr.Judith Prochaska, a psychologist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University.
Some people with mental illness may smoke tobacco to cover symptoms or reduce the effects of their medications.They also find the ability of nicotine to improve their concentration appealing.In biology, the chemical reaches the brain within ten seconds and interacts with it.The brain immediately gains all possible beneficial effects of nicotine.
However, regular doses of nicotine can change how the brain works.The most common negative effect of nicotine is the withdrawal symptoms.It is one of the reasons why some people with mental illness smoke to avoid withdrawal symptoms, such as increased heart rate, which may trigger panic attacks.If that person smokes again, the withdrawal temporarily stops but reinforces the habit.The cycle makes the individual a nicotine dependent.
Smoking and Behavior
Even though smoking somehow puts people into a nearly inescapable habit, there are several benefits they want to gain every now and then.
1.Stress is a very common feeling we experience daily.If stress becomes uncontrollable, it leads to various physical problems such as headaches and makes people feel anxious and irritable.People sometimes smoke to help ease the signs of stress.However, the habit alters the person's behavior that leads to smoking more than usual.
2.Another reason why people smoke is to relax.Nicotine provides an instant sense of relaxation to the smoker in the belief that it reduces the impact of anxiety and stress.But the temporary relief can cause dependence on the chemical and withdrawal symptoms that lead to cravings.When a smoker craves for a stick, the habit actually causes anxiety and stress.
3.Smoking and depression have a strong connection.Nicotine stimulates the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine.Dopamine is responsible for positive feelings and is often found low in people suffering from depression.As a result, people with depression smoke cigarettes to temporarily increase the amount of dopamine and get a shot of positive feelings.However, the habit turns off the brain's natural ability to produce dopamine that leads to a long-term shortage of the neurotransmitter, which people prompt to smoke more.People who suffer from depression have more severe withdrawal symptoms and experience more difficulty trying to quit the habit.
4.People with schizophrenia smoke about three times more than any other people and usually are heavy smokers.The most common explanation for this behavior is that schizophrenics smoke in order to control their symptoms and minimize the side effects of their medication.
The habit of smoking may reduce symptoms of people suffering from mental illness.But the short-term benefits cost long-term addiction, which in turn, places the person's health at risk to physical illnesses such as heart diseases and lung cancer.
Adverse Effects of Smoking
According to the researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, smoking does not truly make a person calmer; instead, it increases the stress on the body and causes several negative effects.Increased blood pressure and heart rate, tensed muscles, constricted blood vessels, and decreased amount of oxygen in the brain are some adverse effects of smoking.
Smoking tobacco products can lead to many health problems such as the increased risk to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.The habit can potentially increase the risk to develop other types of cancer in various organs including bladder, colon and rectum, kidney, liver, pancreas, and stomach.It also affects the overall health of the person as it reduces the chance of a pregnancy, causes stillbirth, reduces the fertility rate in men by damaging sperm cells, increases the chance of miscarriage in women, increases the risk to develop cataracts, can cause type 2 diabetes, and decreases the strength of the immune system.
- More than 1.1 billion people smoked tobacco products in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.The prevalence of tobacco smoking seems to be increasing in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region and the African Region.
- Teen smokers are more likely to have seen a professional for an emotional and psychological complaint.
- Teen smokers are three times more likely to consume alcohol, eight times more likely to smoke marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine.
- Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year and about 890,000 of those deaths are caused by second-hand smoking.
- Almost 80 percent of the world's more than 1 billion smokers are found in low-income and middle-income nations.