If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.

Tobacco Use and Mental Health

Many people use tobacco because it is believed to help with mood – trusting tobacco to help them relax or manage negative feelings. This may be why those with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those without these conditions. What people may not realize is using tobacco could be part of what is causing negative moods in the first place. Tobacco can temporarily help with feelings of stress or sadness, but feeling better in the moment may keep you from doing things that help deal with these feelings in the long run like addressing the causes of stress or reaching out to other people. This could contribute to long-term feelings of anxiety and/or depression.

Anxiety and Stress

People who use tobacco products say tobacco products help them relax. A part of that relaxation comes from satisfying your addiction to nicotine. When it’s been a while since your last cigarette, vape or dip, you start to crave another one, even if you don’t realize it right away. That craving can make you feel irritable or anxious. When you use tobacco again, the craving temporarily lets up, taking the edge off those feelings. It feels like tobacco has helped manage anxiety or stress, but the effects of tobacco may have caused those feelings.


People who smoke are more likely to experience depression than people who don’t smoke. The nicotine in tobacco activates the parts of your brain associated with pleasure and alertness, which makes smoking feel good. Research has shown that when people feel sad, they reach for cigarettes and inhale more deeply than when they are not sad. This temporary relief may keep you from finding healthier ways to manage your negative moods. Taking a moment to breathe deeply, exercising or talking to a friend are effective ways to deal with feelings of sadness that don’t involve tobacco. Quitting tobacco has been shown to have as positive an effect on people’s moods as taking antidepressants.

Benefits of Quitting

Quitting tobacco has been shown to improve your mental health in the long run. While you are trying to kick your nicotine addiction, you may experience mood changes like feeling irritable, restless or sad. However, these changes are a result of nicotine leaving your body and should pass in a couple of weeks. By quitting and staying quit, you’ll be on your way to a happier and healthier life. If you’re interested in resources to support you on your tobacco-free journey, start here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.