A psychiatrist working at St. Patrick’s University Hospital, a mental facility in Dublin, Ireland has noticed a correlation between patients he’s treating for mental illness and heavy smoking. The Irish government hopes to lower their country’s smoking rate to 5% by 2025, so finding that smoking is linked to changes to brain chemistry is one piece of evidence on their side.
The doctors at St. Patrick’s generally assumed that these patients smoked in order to cope with their mental illnesses. This correlation led hospital officials to permit mental patients to smoke outdoors on hospital grounds, a ruling that made them an exemption to the 2004 workplace-smoking ban.
However, there have been developments that indicate schizophrenia (and other disorders) could actually be caused (in part) by prolonged tobacco use.
King’s College London analyzed data from 61 smoking studies (comprised of 288,000 individuals) and discovered that over half (57 percent) of those newly diagnosed with schizophrenia smoked cigarettes. Additionally, those living with schizophrenia are known to smoke more frequently than others do and they tend to inhale deeper. Analysis also showed that people who have a predisposition to develop psychosis show symptoms at least a year sooner than non-smokers do.
Excess dopamine, scientists believe, is the reason behind this possible link. Dopamine is a chemical found within the brain that is responsible for helping transmit nerve signals. Moreover, scientists think that dopamine plays a part in schizophrenia development.
Of course, scientists will need to conduct more studies to learn more about this possible connection.
On this side of the pond, around 44 percent of Americans who have mental illness are smokers—that makes them roughly twice as likely to smoke. However, there is a silver lining. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, those living with mental illnesses who smoke cigarettes are able to quit smoking easier than those without mental illness.
If you’re looking for a better alternative to smoking, we invite you to consider e-cigarettes. Here at EverSmoke, we offer a variety of e-cigarette starter kits and preloaded cartridges. Interested but need more information? Take a spin around our site, view our products and browse our blog and knowledge center.