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Smoking & Depression

Smokers are more likely to have depression than non-smokers. Nobody knows for sure why this is. People who have depression might smoke to feel better. Or smokers might get depression more easily because they smoke. No matter what the cause, there are treatments that work for both depression and smoking.

Mood changes are common after quitting smoking. Some people feel increased sadness. You might be irritable, restless, or feel down or blue. Changes in mood from quitting smoking may be part of withdrawal. Withdrawal is your body getting used to not having nicotine. Mood changes from nicotine withdrawal usually get better in a week or two. If mood changes do not get better in a couple of weeks, you should talk to your doctor. Something else, like depression, could be the reason.

Smoking may seem to help you with depression. You might feel better in the moment. But there are many problems with using cigarettes to cope with depression. There are other things you can try to lift your mood:
  • Exercise. Being physically active can help. Start small and build up over time. This can be hard to do when you’re depressed. But your efforts will pay off.
  • Structure your day. Make a plan to stay busy. Get out of the house if you can.
  • Be with other people. Many people who are depressed are cut off from other people. Being in touch or talking with others every day can help your mood.
  • Reward yourself. Do things you enjoy. Even small things add up and help you feel better.
  • Get support. If you are feeling down after quitting smoking, it may help to talk about this with friends and family. Your doctor also can help.

More For You

Do you think you might be depressed? Take this quiz to find out if you’re showing signs of depression.
Understand why you feel like you need to smoke so that you can avoid triggers and deal with nicotine withdrawal.
Depression is more than just feeling the blues. Find out how to recognize depression and learn when to seek help.
Part of quitting is finding ways to cope without cigarettes. Try these better ways to deal with your emotions.