Latimer: Relationship between smoking and mental illness

Rates of smoking are much higher for those with mental illness than in the general population.

I have written in the past about the prevalence of smoking among those with psychiatric conditions.

Rates of smoking are much higher for those with mental illness than in the general population.

One survey of psychiatric outpatients in the U.S. reported 88 per cent of those with schizophrenia were smokers as well as 70 per cent of those experiencing mania and 49 per cent of those with depression.

Along with increased rates of smoking, those with mental illness also tend to smoke more heavily than others (with intake increasing along with the severity of their mental illness) and have a harder time quitting.

All of this contributes to a reduced life expectancy in this group.

Some estimates suggest people with severe mental illness die about 25 years earlier than the general population.

Contrary to assumptions, the increased mortality in this group is not directly caused by mental illness but is largely due to smoking—60 per cent of these deaths are due to smoking related illnesses such as cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

Unfortunately, those with mental illness are often not offered help with smoking cessation when they visit a health care provider.

Quitting can be difficult for those with mental illness.

These smokers tend to have higher nicotine dependence, heavier smoking and chronic stress.

Other barriers might include a lack of supports, cognitive impairment or difficulty coping.

Still, quitting is possible and is more likely to be successful with support from health care providers.

For those with bipolar disorder I usually recommend the use of nicotine replacement therapy as an initial strategy to avoid abrupt nicotine withdrawal.

Abrupt nicotine withdrawal can trigger a mood switch.

Also the use of Zyban (bupropion) for smoking cessation can be problematic in people with bipolar disorder as can the use of all antidepressants.

It can trigger mood switches, mania and mixed states.

Even though there are some risks in smoking cessation with bipolar disorder and with other disorders, it is still worthwhile to attempt to quit considering the health consequences of doing nothing.

If possible the time to try is during periods of relative stability and with supervision so that support and medication adjustments can be implemented as necessary.

The vastly increased mortality rate for those with serious psychiatric conditions should not simply be accepted.

If up to 60 per cent of these premature deaths and many health complications could be prevented with supported smoking cessation, it should be one of the primary goals of health care providers treating this population.

Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

t
Motorcyclist critically injured in Westside Road collision

Motorcyclist collides with vehicle, struck by another: preliminary police findings

People at the beach in front of Discovery Bay Resort on Tuesday, July 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Heat wave forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures are forecast to hit record breaking highs this week

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Kelowna mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead

Pair discovered in their Vancouver Island home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Central Programs and Services on Richter Street.
COVID-19 exposure at Central Programs and Services

Interior Health annouces a COVID-19 exposure within Central Okanagan Schools

Tony Costa/ Facebook
UPDATE: Out-of-control fire burning above Peachland

The blaze sparked on Sunday and is believed to be lightning caused

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A 1969 Barracuda convertible like this one is being refurbished by Rust Valley Restorers and raffled off to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity Kamloops, which includes the Salmon Arm/Shuswap area. (Image contributed)
Rust Valley Restorers’ work will lead drive for attainable housing in Salmon Arm

Habitat for Humanity Kamloops’ Classic Car raffle features ‘69 Barracuda convertible

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Osoyoos chef Murray McDonald was ecstatic upon realizing he scored the $1 million guaranteed prize in the June 2, 2021 Lotto 6/49 draw. (Contributed)
Osoyoos chef ecstatic after bagging $1 million Lotto 6/49 win

B.C. lottery players have redeemed more than $44 million in winnings from Lotto 6/49 this year

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
UPDATE: Two churches on band land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read