Smoking and Schizophrenia
According to an article in the British Medical Journal (10 July 2015), smoking may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, a severe type of mental illness called psychosis.
An association between cigarettes and psychotic symptoms has been noted before, but is this because patients take up smoking as a way to try to counteract symptoms or help reduce the side effects of drugs used to treat them?
Although not proven, the researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College, London, concluded that ‘smoking should be taken seriously as a possible risk factor for developing psychosis’.
The cause(s) of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are unknown, but there is a theory that they are due to chemical imbalances in the brain. Or maybe chemical changes in the brain, if such exist, could be the result of mental illnesses.
People who smoke cigarettes inhale into their lungs nicotine and thousands of other chemicals, many of which are poisonous. These include cadmium, polonium, arsenic, lead, carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and benzene.
Inhaling tobacco smoke, therefore, results in a drugged state.
It’s hardly surprising that if you’re suffering from a mental illness, you aren’t going to do yourself any good by putting numerous chemical poisons into your bloodstream in addition.
This is doubtless connected with the fact that when smokers stop smoking they often feel much better with less anxiety and depression.
Text © Gabriel Symonds
The illustration is a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh, who was plagued by mental illness throughout his life.