Smoking rates are higher among people with mental illness than in the rest of the population. People with mental illness often suffer physical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes which are made worse by smoking.
Reasons to quit
Quitting smoking has many benefits for people with mental illness, including improved physical health and wellbeing and a reduction in the financial burden imposed by smoking.
Unfortunately, many people with mental illness do not receive the support they need to quit smoking or wrongly believe the common myth that quitting will make their mental illness worse. This belief is unfounded.
We know that:
- many people with mental illness want to quit smoking
- people with mental illness can and do quit smoking
- quitting does not make mental illness worse or worsen symptoms of the illness
- nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and other forms of pharmacotherapy are safe and effective for use by people with a mental illness
- sometimes withdrawal symptoms from smoking (such as depressed mood, irritability and anxiety) can be mistaken for symptoms of mental illness.
Quitting can lead to a better quality of life for people with mental illness including a reduction in depression, anxiety and stress and in some cases, a need for less medication and less side effects.
Getting help to quit
If you are a smoker and have a mental illness and want help with quitting smoking:
- discuss quitting with your doctor or health professional to work out a quit plan together. Your doctor can monitor your medication levels and side-effects and advise on antidepressant medication;
- get information and advice from your doctor or health professional about NRT and other forms of pharmacotherapy that can greatly assist you to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms;
- call the NSW Quitline 13 7848 for more information and for ongoing support.
There are many resources you can take advantage of in your efforts to quit smoking. NSW Health has developed a range of fact sheets and brochures for your benefit.