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​Vaping and Mental Health: Can It Help or Harm Your Wellbeing?

15th Nov 2023

Two People Holding Vapes

It’s well known that smoking is strongly associated with a higher occurrence of mental health issues. According to the Mental Health Foundation, people with depression are twice as likely to be smokers than those without depression. Does smoking cause depression, though, or is it just that those with depression are more likely to self-medicate by smoking? If smoking does cause mental health issues, do all forms of nicotine use have the same effect? Researchers are still trying to answer those questions – and depression isn’t the only mental health issue with a possible link to smoking.

  • People frequently smoke to ease feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • People with schizophrenia are three times as likely to be smokers as those without schizophrenia and are often very heavy smokers.
  • People with bipolar disorder are more than twice as likely to be smokers.
  • The prevalence of smoking is 1.8 times higher among those with any mental health issue.

This article isn’t intended to provide medical advice or to promote the position that switching from smoking to vaping can alleviate clinical mental health issues. If you believe that you may be unwell, speak to your GP or call NHS on 111 for help.

Although there is no evidence suggesting that vaping can resolve serious mental health issues, it is possible that switching to vaping can have a positive effect on your ability to cope with the normal ups and downs of everyday life. So, how can vaping improve your overall state of mind? Here are just a few examples of how buying your first vape kit can positively change your life.

Vaping May Help to Reduce Your Addiction to Nicotine

Addiction to any substance causes anxiety in two ways. You become anxious when you’re nearly out of that substance – when you have only a few cigarettes remaining in a pack, for instance – and your body also produces anxiety-causing hormones when you haven’t had that substance in a while. Cigarettes are particularly likely to cause anxiety reactions between smoking sessions because of the way they deliver nicotine to the body – you receive a large dose of nicotine when you’re smoking, and your blood-nicotine level decreases quickly after you put the cigarette out. Very soon, you begin to crave your next cigarette – and that causes anxiety.

Cigarettes also reinforce addiction in a way that other forms of nicotine don’t because tobacco smoke inhibits the body’s production of monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO inhibitors are used in medicine to treat depression because they increase the body’s serotonin levels. Since smoking promotes higher serotonin levels, it triggers your body’s reward response and reinforces addiction. MAO inhibition is a property that’s specific to tobacco smoke; nicotine alone doesn’t have the same effect.

In addition to the fact that e-cigarettes aren’t MAO inhibitors, switching to vaping can also potentially reduce your addiction to nicotine because no other form of nicotine use gives you the extremely fine control over nicotine intake that vaping does. When you vape, you can control your nicotine consumption in two ways: You can buy vape juice with a lower nicotine strength, and you can reduce the number of times that you puff on your device per day. Many vape mods and pod systems have built-in puff counters that can help you manage your nicotine intake. With vaping, it’s possible to reduce your nicotine intake so slowly that you barely even feel it.

Vaping May Improve Your Confidence in Social Situations

Next, let’s discuss a mental health issue that virtually every smoker has experienced: low self-esteem. You’re well aware of the fact that virtually all non-smokers hate the smell of smoke. With that in mind, you’re naturally going to worry about whether you smell like smoke if you’re standing close to others and have had a cigarette recently. To cover the smell, you might spray yourself with perfume, chew breath mints or wash your hands after smoke breaks.

Despite your efforts, you know that people can smell the smoke when they stand close to you, and that knowledge is going to make it very difficult for you to behave naturally in social situations involving people who don’t smoke. In that way, smoking can have a profoundly negative effect on your self-esteem.

Vaping, on the other hand, doesn’t leave any lingering odour at all. It doesn’t make your home, car, clothes, hair or breath smell – and knowing that you smell nice will make it much easier for you to feel confident when you’re near others. Removing that source of anxiety and discomfort can have a dramatic effect on your mental wellbeing.

Vaping May Improve Your Mood and Increase Your Patience

Are you the type of person who has trouble concentrating at the beginning of the day? Maybe you feel sour and are short with others until you’ve had several cups of coffee because you perpetually feel as though you haven’t had enough sleep. Nicotine use may contribute to that problem.

Did you know that nicotine has a half-life of about two hours in your bloodstream? That means if you smoke a cigarette two hours before going to bed, half of the nicotine – an extremely potent stimulant – is still in your blood. That, however, isn’t what most smokers do. In reality, most smokers have their last cigarettes of the day almost immediately before bedtime.

Smoking can be incredibly harmful to your sleep quality. Nicotine causes insomnia, and it also causes you to wake up during the night. When you do eventually fall asleep, nicotine suppresses the REM stage of sleep and impedes your body’s ability to perform its normal self-repair functions. Those things cause you to feel sleepy during the day, which negatively affects your mood.

When you vape, the nicotine in your e-liquid can also cause all of those issues – but the difference is that vaping gives you complete control over your nicotine consumption. At night, you can switch to a low-nicotine vape juice or even a nicotine-free e-liquid. When you use vape juice with no nicotine, you’ll still enjoy the satisfying hand-to-mouth ritual of vaping – but you won’t be consuming a powerful stimulant.

Switching to non-nicotine e-liquid at night means that when you go to bed, your blood-nicotine levels will be much lower. That means you’ll fall asleep – and stay asleep – more easily, which can have a dramatic effect on your mood during the day.