Quitting Smoking And Depression

A lot of smokers worry about getting depression after they quit smoking. Before we jump in, let’s state that the evidence between quitting smoking and depression is not clear. What is clear is that there are more smokers who suffer from depression than non-smokers, potentially because they smoke to feel better.

You shouldn’t wait to quit because you’re worried about depression. New evidence supports that quitting smoking is actually associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress, improved positive mood and quality of life

Quitting Smoking And Depression
Quitting smoking does not necessarily lead to depression

compared to the continuation of smoking [1].

How do I know if I have Depression After I Quit?

It’s important to note that depression is more than just being sad a single day. Changes in mood and feeling down are normal when you quit smoking. These feelings are from withdrawal from nicotine and generally go on for 1-2 weeks only. However, depression is characterized by constantly feeling sad, getting easily frustrated, changes in sleep, feeling worthless, being tried, getting grumpy, and changes in behavior like not wanting to do things that used to be fun.

Here’s a free Quiz that is sponsored by the National Institute of Health to find out if you’re suffering from depression:

Do you Have Depression Quiz

What are the treatments for Depression?

If you feel like you may have depression after you quit you should look for treatment. Whatever you do, don’t start smoking again! Smoking does not treat depression and is linked to tons of serious health risks.

Treatments for depression begin by speaking to a doctor or your mental health professional. They may recommend counseling‚ talk therapy‚ psychotherapy, medication, or some combination of all of them.

Other small things you can do to make yourself feel better are:

• Exercise – A common theme for smokers who are trying to quit! It’s a great mood booster.
• Reconnect with friends and loved ones – Support is key, not only in quitting smoking but also in beating depression.
• Structure your day – Stay busy by getting out of your house and doing activities.
• Join a Sports League- Not only will you get exercise but you will also get to connect with others.

Don’t be discouraged or embarrassed if you’re experiencing depression. 1 in every 6 Americans suffer from depression at one point of their lives and millions have overcome it. You can too!


[1] Taylor Gemma, McNeillAnn, Girling Alan, FarleyAmanda, Lindson-HawleyNicola, Aveyard Paul et al. Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ 2014;348 :g1151

45 thoughts on “Quitting Smoking And Depression

  1. Hello! Excellent informative and useful for all those who wants to quit smoking. I think this blog motivates all those who are thinking to stop smoking. For once a smoker quits, he often forgets just how rotten life was as a smoker.Great blog and keep sharing more such.

    1. I am going through depression and smoke. I have noticed that if I don’t smoke for 2 hours I start feeling well. Smoking is making my depression worse and I can feel it after only one cig. I am trying to stop smoking and I know I will come out.

  2. For me, some of the depression comes from the loss of a close friend. I quit smoking two months ago. I am very honest about life. I realized smoking was like a close friend who’d been with me during good and bad times. It comforted me in tough times, rough times, and sad times. It helped me celebrate good times and rewarded me for doing good things. It helped me reflect on life. But all along, this friend of 40 years was slowly killing me. My friend was smiling in my face and stabbing me in my back. My friend was deceitful. When this friendship’s damage to my health became clear, I had to end my friendship. It is this loss (major change of routine) that I believe made me somewhat depressed. But now I have more time (and energy) for other things. So, acknowledge the friendship, recognize its deceit and damage, mourn its end, and make new friends. To fight cravings, chew gum and distract yourself with healthy things. Duration of cravings decrease as weeks go by. Now they last 2-5 seconds. When they come, I say to myself “Good bye deceitful friend. You will not trick me again. And I will not go through the tough first week of withdrawal over and over. Once is enough.”

    1. That’s really useful. The cigarette as a friend analogy is a very useful one for my to see written down and described. I’m feeling more lonely without cigarettes but I’m also aware cigarettes are a false friend and hopefully the depressive feelings will pass.

    2. @ Tom Alexander..Thank you for this post it helped me to find the courage I needed to continue on my journey..good fortune to you..

    3. Thank you gory our statement! This really has put the whole smoking into perspective and I love your thoughts. Yes, they are such a close friend but one that is slowly killing me… I need to get rid! For good!

    4. Thank you this was very helpful. Ive been feeling like I lost a good friend. Been very depressed since I quit, but ultimately it’s better for me and I have to take it one day at a time

    5. This is so helpful thank you. I have been feeling like I am grieving someone close. I’ll work on shifting my mindset to the next stage.

    6. Stopped smoking nine days ago…I have started to feel down off and on for last few days. I decided to Google whether this is common in those who quit. I have stated smoking many times after stopping for a while because of these bleak, lonely feelings. I just wanted to see what sort of support I could find. Everyone I know is burnt out with my stopping and starting.

    7. Yes, I too smoked for many years and am sad about not smoking even if my dirty little friend was stabbing me in the back, cigarettes were always there, good or baf

    8. Yes, I too smoked for many years and am sad about not smoking even if my dirty little friend was stabbing me in the back, cigarettes were always there, good or bad.

    9. Tom has articulated and described the “grieving and loss” of cigarettes as being the same as the loss of an old friend brilliantly . The feeling of absolute loss and grief seems indescribable for the first few weeks of not smoking. i have been off the smokes now for 3 months , these feelings have just resurfaced and i have to keep reminding myself that although smokes had been with me for the past 35 years , they were deceiving me and killing me. I do not want them back…Make no mistake , for some people this feeling of loss is huge. of all the life changes in the last 5 years – Kids moved out , wife left me , dog of 16 years died and now decided to give the smokes away for good. i cannot believe that although they did a good job of leveling the feelings of loss of other life’s issues , the actual ” never again having a smoke ” is actually quite devestating. – The big worry is , when I went to G.P. recently in the journey , he found it amusing and laughed a little at my describing cigarettes as a lost friend – needles to say , I no longer see this doctor , I dont think anyone can feel the sense of loss involved unless you’re going thru it , hang in there everyone , as I intend to , I want to turn 3 months not smoking into the rest of life not smoking.

  3. Quitting smoking depends on attitude. If you are a smoker and hoping to quit and looking for strengthening your motivation to stay smoke-free, try E-cigarettes. E- cigarettes is a healthy substitute of traditional cigraates. They contan less amount of harmful chemicals that cuases cancer and other other problems. E-cigarettes gives same pleasure of smoking as traditional cigarettes give. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. You have any evidence to prove they are healthier? If you’re going to quit and quitting depends on attitude (which it does), then quit cold turkey. Don’t just smoke ecigs and think that’s quitting anything.

      1. Jim,
        I totally agree! I don’t believe that ecig’s is a healthy alternative to smoking, It’s just exchanging one habit for another. I quit cold turkey 1 month ago, and it is hard. Not so much the cravings, but the physical symptoms of (new) shaking hands, feeling foggy and depression. But I know since I’ve come this far I won’t start smoking again. I agree that cold turkey is the way to go.

    2. Another way of keeping you addicted to nicotine and company’s making a buck from us poor sufferers. One addiction to another with same substance ( nicotine ) Only way is old turkey… get rid once and for all.

    3. When my mom tried to quit the first of many she tried the e ciggerett but she said it was more of a Hassel so she said to hell with it and started smoking again. It’s still an addictive product made by the same companies that make regular ciggeretts. So if you have someone saying it’s healthier it’s kinda like saying drink the coolaid

  4. I quit smoking a few weeks ago (cold turkey) and even though I thought in the beginning it would be an easy thing to do, it’s been actually a really tough journey. I find myself bursting with anger over the silliest things and the last couple of days I noticed I’ve been sensitive/emotional too. Like, super emotional. That’s why I’m here.
    I know now it wasn’t a mild silly habit and that cigarettes are just like any other drug… with so many chemichals and so damn addictive!
    anyway, thanks for the post. these kind of things get me through the day and make me feel I’m not alone

  5. My cigarettes are my only companions. I’m lost and and going into a depression without them. I am hoping this is temporary and won’t last too long. I’m on my 10th day.

  6. I’m on day thirteen of quitting, cold-turkey, and have had a pretty rough go. My decision to stop smoking came after having several panic attacks and the development of generalized anxiety disorder. I was anxious about my habit because I knew I SHOULD quit, and that my friends and family HATED it, but I kept sneaking smokes. I was going well out of my way to wash my hands and freshen my breath before coming home, despite a sneaking suspicion that it was all for naught anyway (my fiancé has a pretty good sniffer.) All the lying and hiding was exhausting – so I finally stopped. I didn’t plan my last smoke, but rather decided just before my next one that the time had finally come.
    Since quitting, I haven’t had any additional panic attacks (THANK GOODNESS – those really suck), but my anxiousness has instead spread out across my entire day. I find myself needing to sing songs in my head or turn to digital distractions in between meetings at work. At home, something must be going on all the time…for fear of an existential dread setting in. Today though…today I’m starting to feel like myself again. Almost two weeks in and I’m finally leveling off.
    To those just starting the smoke-free journey: it gets better. To those who haven’t made up their mind quite yet: take your time. Find your “why” and you can do anything. Quitting for anyone or anything other than yourself won’t see you through to the end.

  7. Am i the only one not comforted by this article? I mean who wants to start excersising, or visit their smoker friends after quitting? I pretty much hate everything right now and it’s been 3 weeks now after quitting cold turkey.
    I’m the most deppresed i’ve ever been, my health problems have not changed one bit, and i feel completely hopeless.
    I feel like all of this talk about smoking being bad for you is just nonsense that non-smokers and doctors (who really don’t know anything) made up so that they have an excuse they can sell you on why you’re sick.
    Life is short and meaningless (even when you’re a non-smoker), so why not enjoy it at least.
    And please don’t tell me i need therapy or pills (which are much worse health wise) – These things didn’t work for in the past.

    1. I feel you 100%. Day 13 here, feeling tremendous depression and anxiety. Quitting was supposed to make me a better person but I really hate who I am now. I used to be pretty laid back and generally centered, now I am overly emotional, bitchy, and stressed worse than ever. Smoker for over 25 years decided it was time to do better for myself and family but I am just a hot mess. I refuse to go on antidepressants, they are poison and I’d rather smoke. People tell me it gets better but WHEN?

    2. Thank you. I was just thinking the same thing after reading the article. No words or advice are comforting right now. I’m on day 13 and do nothing but sleep in my free time, oh and eat. I have no desire to socialize since I quit which makes this all more lonely. I quit for 3 years about 10 years ago and I don’t remember feeling this depressed when I quit then.

    1. Have you stayed stopped… did the depression go away… I also stopped for 3 months and started again because I was bursting into tears at the slightest thing… I want to do it again and know I can but I’m afraid of the dark gloomy feelings that I can’t get control over

  8. I am on my second week or maybe going into my third. Time and time again this past week it’s been so hard. My emotions are everywhere. I hate feeling down and not wanting to talk to my best friend. I’m pushing through this. There is no way I will ever let anything control my life like this again. Be bigger than your addiction. I would have never said that before. I believed that they were something I wanted. I didn’t feel the need to quit because I wasn’t addicted. I could quit anytime I wanted. This is litteraly the hardest thing I have ever been through and I have two children. It helps that my husband is going through it and being more supportive than I have been to him poor baby. The emotional rollercoaster isn’t the best but I know it will be over soon. I’m tired of the random boughts of crying for no reason and the utter despair at some points. But it’s much better to take charge of your life. Be strong. Don’t go back. Picking up smoking again only holds these feelings back for so long before the dam breaks. Think about that moment you don’t have a ciggerett and you get frustrated. That’s it’s hold on you. You are not in control. Take it back it’s your life.

  9. Quit smoking 2 1/2 months ago just now started to feel lonely without smoking. I thought the feeling might have to do with smoking and reading what others have posted really helps.

  10. I previously gave up for 9 years. Then 3 years ago started again due to traumatic life event. Been smoking more than ever, like life depended on it. I’ve had a nasty virus for 2 weeks and had to not smoke and have disappeared into nasty black hole depression. I realise I use smoking to avoid responsibility and to avoid taking action in awful situation. It makes me feel slightly out of control of life. But without it I will have to act as there’s nowhere to hide aaarrrggghhh!! But it must be a good thing in the long run..

  11. I quit smoking and got depressed, I was 6 years without smokes and my depression worsened significantly (SSRI medications, psychotherapy etc..). Totally unrelated to depression I started smoking again and my depression vanished within a week, there was not any other changes in my life.

    I have tried to quit nicotin couple of times before and after that but symptoms are always same, depression kicks in about 2-3 weeks after I quit and last until I start again. I did not understand this before that 6 year depression.

    I do not smoke anymore but I use nicotin gum and I am really really worried to quit it ever again.
    In my life I have never ever been depressed at periods when I smoke.

    And no Iam not tobacco or nicotin lobbyist, I just want to warn that if you start smoking it MAY mess up your brain chemistry permanently. I do not know if there is single study about it and Iam really one single person and you cannot draw any conclusions about my experiences.

    But still, never ever start smoking !

    1. MM,
      Your comment scared me. I’ve been a person with a pretty even perspective on life up until now. 1 month into not smoking and I’m seriously depressed. Full of anxiety and apt to break into tears with little or no provocation, along with trembling hands, trouble sleeping and feeling foggy. I sincerely hope and pray that smoking didn’t do more than screw up my lungs… I don’t know what I’ll do about this mounting depression. My mind has always been sharp and strong. I pray this passes.

  12. I am on day 6 of not smoking, but have been using the highest level patch every day. I am horribly depressed, especially at night time. I haven’t even completed cut out the nicotine since I am using the patch and I am depressed. I don’t even want to think what it will be like to go off the patch. Seriously considering starting back. This is the worst thing ever. Ugh!!!!!

  13. quit cold turkey 6 days ago after 20 years smoking. Today Ive been swinging between euphoria and then uncontrollable crying. I am sorry for what I did to myself, and I am sorry what my smoking did to others. Im sorry I gave up good health during the best years of my life. I am sorry that I let smoking keep me away from positive things, seeing people, going out, dealing with emotions, and feeling empathy for other people. I think that is how I was able to quit maybe. Recently I have felt more empathetic to other people, and just last week I stopped smoking. Now I worry that I have put myself at a severe psychological disadvantage since I have to re-learn every process in life without nicotine.

    good luck. be better than yourself

  14. I quit smoking 6 years ago, and honestly i have been suffering low grade depression since i quit. Its hard to explain, i just feel no joy, everything is gray. I quit cold Turkey, after trying other methods and failing. I had to drink alot of soda and sweets to do it, and i slept as often as i could for the furst week or two. I am wondering if the chemicals in cigs somehow helped me. So i often want to smoke still after all these years, i want to feel happiness. I dont wear a seatbelt because i really dont care what happens to me.

  15. I can so relate to you MM. Started smoking at 26. 44 now. Have quit 3 times- 10 months is longest. Now on 4th quit and depression is my biggest challenge…. Keep hoping I’ll feel like a non smoker that doesn’t think about the void. I have been out of the woods before then something cracks…. I feel so many benefits except for the apathy, lack of joi de Vivre. And the constipation sux. Only day 5- hope the clouds will lift soon. So agree- don’t smoke. Good luck to everyone here. Can only relate to people here. Thanks. Stay strong and smoke free!!!!

  16. Does mobile app help to quit the bad habit? I was reading an article about an app called quit smoking slowly. Is it real thing or fake?

  17. The Day “You have been waiting for years to come…”
    Finished, my last three cigarettes. First two were on an interval of 30 mins. But, the last one within 5 mins. of smoking the second cigarette. Well, the last one just smoked to finish the pack forever from my life. Well, a bold step was awaited for over 30 years of continuous smoking. Tonight, it occurred!

    Good thing, I joined the Gym before quitting it. Although, it was not planned for quitting smoking. But, it helped to beat the lethargy, the feeling to do nothing that require focus. Somehow managing a good gym routine with 1.15 hrs. every day that included on Avg. 7-8 km walk and run plus some floor exercises like crunches, plank, sit ups with intent to get rid of belly fat. This gym was a harsh decision to take, when no source of income, no projects, and no jobs lined up for in-definitive period. I just pushed myself to take up one month’s gym work-out service subscription at the health club in my society.

    Another good initiative was meditation and a weekly visit to social club nearby that I started couple of weeks earlier to quit smoking. For strange reasons, I observed, not feel like talking to anyone, trying to be just myself.

    After 4 days of quitting, decided to write myself about my progress to change the league from smokers to ex-smoker. I guess, studies suggest one graduates to the non-smokers after an year from the date one quits smoking.

  18. Research has shown that while around 20 percent of Americans still light up, about 50 percent of those with depression do. And the figure jumps to between 70 and 90 percent for schizophrenics and people with bipolar disorder.

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