Mental Health

Did you know that people with mental health problems are much more likely to smoke and to smoke more heavily than other people.

Over half of smokers with mental health problems want to give up smoking. It might take time and you will need lots of support and help… but help is available.  
 Don’t underestimate the power of nicotine!  You have to take charge of your smoking.  Give yourself time to allow for those days that you don’t feel so good because of your illness.  Contact the specialist smoking cessation service in your area for help or work with your support team (GP, community psychiatric nurse, practice nurse, psychiatrist) and meet with them regularly.

Everyone who stops smoking has to deal with withdrawal symptoms. If you have mental health problems this can be more difficult as you might worry that you won’t be able to cope. It is very important to prepare yourself and get help and support from your doctor or your smoking cessation advisor.

 

If you are on medication for your mental illness, you should talk to your doctor before you consider giving up smoking.
Use the tools on this website to help you prepare to give up smoking for good.

Feeling angry, low or anxious?
This might be the first time you have had to deal with these feelings without a cigarette.  You may think these feelings are warning signs related to your illness but they are normal for anyone who is giving up smoking. You will need to find ways that will help you to cope, for example

  • Distract yourself
  • Go for a walk
  • Call or meet up with a friend
  • Treat yourself to a massage

If the feelings don’t get easier and are starting to worry you, talk to your doctor.

Many people use cigarettes to cope with different emotions - such as smoking in a stressful situation. You also may have used cigarettes to block out your feelings.  When you stop smoking it can be difficult to manage these feelings without a cigarette.
Focus on what is good about you and your life.  Try to turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.  For example, if you think ‘I need a cigarette to cope with stress’, turn it into, ‘I can calm down without a cigarette.  I’ll talk to somebody, take some deep breaths, and go for a walk.  I’ll learn a new way to cope’.
If you continue to have difficulties coping without cigarettes talk about it with your doctor, community psychiatric nurse (CPN) or counsellor.

“I’d smoked since I was nine years old. My whole life was smoking. When I was diagnosed with depression when I was 20 years old I turned to cigarettes for comfort. They became my best friend. They helped me cope with my low moods, or so I thought. But to be honest since I quit I think my moods are better. I’m not gonna lie and say it was easy. It wasn’t and it still isn’t. But I wake up in the morning with a new energy I thought I’d never have. I feel great, like a new man. Who’d have thought that after 40 years of smoking I could give it up?”   John (51), Sligo

Useful links:

yourmentalhealth.ie
Schizophrenia Ireland
GROW
AWARE
National Office for Suicide Prevention
http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/