As experts and the public alike debate whether or not vaping can have implications for our physical health and well-being, the issue of its effect on our mental health has been largely ignored. However, it might be worth remembering that, in fact, nicotine has long been used to treat mental health conditions, with several studies having shown that it can actually reduce the symptoms associated with a host of conditions such as schizophrenia, depression and attention deficit disorders. Nicotine is able to fuse with the nicotinic receptors in the brain, which in turn cause neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to be released. Both of these are linked to positive effects including happiness and improved mood.
Mental Health and Smoking
Recent evidence has revealed that people who suffer from mental health conditions are much more likely to be smokers and to have a dependency on nicotine. They also generally find it more difficult to quit tobacco that people who do not have a diagnosed mental health problem. Amazingly, around 90% of all people with schizophrenia smoke, and there is also a very high percentage of anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar and panic disorder sufferers who are addicted to cigarettes.
Overall, over 30% of all cigarettes are believed to be smoked by mental health sufferers. This raises a problem, since, while regular cigarettes may help in reliving the symptoms associated with a range of mental disorders, of course they are also well known to increase the chance of developing serious physical illnesses.
Research has proved that psychiatric hospital patients are likely to die an average of 25 years sooner than the rest of the population, and while there are several factors contributing to this difference, diseases caused as a result of smoking probably have a large part to play in it.
Vaping as a Solution
Experts are now starting to suggest that e-cigs could well be one of the best solutions to the problem. As vaping involves no combustion or tobacco, there are no carcinogens present to cause potentially life-threatening conditions. Meanwhile, the nicotine contained in e-juice can reduce the craving for a cigarette which leads to smokers returning to the habit.
Already some psychiatric wards hand out nicotine replacement therapies to patients, including nicotine patches, and therefore it is only a short step towards accepting e-cigarette use as a suitable alternative. There have even been studies previously carried out into the use of e-cigs as a replacement for cigarettes, and the results clearly revealed that vaping was able to reduce the average patient with schizophrenia’s cigarette consumption considerably without having any negative effects on their mental health symptoms.
The Future of Vaping in Mental Health Patients
Although these latest revelations appear to be heading in the right direction, as yet there are some mental health organisations which remain to be convinced. Until more research is carried out to fully determine what effect e-cigs can have on mental health symptoms, psychiatric professionals are unlikely to start recommending their use to relieve these debilitating conditions.
However, if future studies prove that e-cigarettes have a positive benefit and are safe for use in patients who are suffering from mental health conditions, we could very soon be seeing vaping becoming commonplace in psychiatric wards up and down the country.