A new study coming out of the USA centred around vaping and mental health, suggests e-cigarettes are more than likely causing depression.
However, and once again, the UK and the USA are at loggerheads, with a new briefing from the NHS Mental Health Smoking Partnership [MHSP] suggesting smokers suffering from mental illness should make the switch to e-cigs!
And don’t forget, one of the largest mental health hospitals in the UK – the Ladywell Unit at Lewisham – is currently handing out FREE e-cigarettes to its patients.
Confused? Not really given I would rather listen to a widely respected body such as the MHSP than an obscure research paper from Ohio University.
So first up let’s look at the US study titled: Association Between E-cigarette Use and Depression in US Adults.
Vaping And Mental Health – Depression Link?
Researchers from Ohio University didn’t bother to look for independent ‘guinea-pigs’ – instead they relied on data gathered from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System – up to date or what lol.
They say after drilling into the data a clear pattern emerged showing that 32.4% of current vapers reported having depression.
From that data the researchers concluded a set of common links between those vapers…
And they were: marital status, employment status and marijuana use…
The study concluded:
In a representative sample of adults in the United States e-cigarette use is associated with depression, predominantly in widowed/divorced/separated, unemployed and people who use marijuana.
This association was independent of potential cofounders.
People are depressed because their partner has died – their marriage has broken down – they’ve lost their jobs or are using excessive amounts of marijuana?
Imagine my shock…
Common sense will tell you that any or all of those life changing events will definitely either cause a bout of depression or at least drop you in the doldrums for a while.
So what the hell has vaping got to do with it? Apart from the over-use of marijuana – which can of course not only create an addiction in some users – but does have sedative side-effects such as lethargy.
As studies go – and I’ve read a few by now lol – this one is yet another scaremongering load of BS based on flimsy evidence and another attempt at negativity around e-cigarettes and their health benefits.
So what does the UK say about vaping and mental health?
Vaping and Mental Health – UK Backs E-cigs!
I’ve written before about the great divide between the UK and the USA on all things vape – and it’s the same with vaping and mental health.
Over here the world of psychiatry is in general very much pro-vaping – bang in line with Public Health England and of course the British Psychological Society is a big supporter of vaping as a harm reduction tool.
In PHE’s most recent update on all things e-cigarette – one of its many recommendations was for more mental health professionals to receive training on the benefits of making the switch from smoking to vaping.
The new MHSP guidelines takes this further and points out that those with mental health issues tend to smoke more frequently which in turn means 10 to 20 years are cut from their life-expectancy.
Wow – now that’s some extremely serious and worrying data…
This new briefing – Use of Electronic Cigarettes By People With Mental Health Problems – makes it VERY clear that helping patients make the switch should be one of the prime goals by medical practitioners.
The guidelines are pro-vaping from the start:
…those with mental health problems have much higher smoking rates than those without diagnosed or enduring mental health problems – 40.5% compared to 14.9% – they disproportionately experience the adverse effects of smoking.
Around one third of all cigarettes in England are smoked by people with a mental health problem.6Evidence to date shows that electronic cigarettes (also called ‘e-cigarettes’ ‘vaping products’ or ‘vapes’) are substantially less harmful than cigarettes.
…Studies have also found that e-cigarettes can help some people with mental health problems quit or cut down with minimal side effects.
The piece from MHSP links to a number of research papers including one from a group of eminent US psychiatrists that concluded after their study:
E‐cigarettes appeal to those with mental illness as a viable alternative to combustible tobacco, and their use does not appear to exacerbate nicotine addiction or psychiatric symptoms.
However, the MHSP warns that patients on certain medication MUST seek medical advice before making the switch.
This, they say, is down to the interaction between some medication and smoking but say making the switch will have major life changing benefits:
Tobacco smoke interacts with some medications used for treating mental health and physical health problems, particularly clozapine.
Anyone who is on any such medications and decides to stop smoking (either using NRT or other licenced medications, an e-cigarette, or without pharmacological support) should talk to their doctor as they may need to have their dosage reduced.
A review of the evidence found that stopping smoking is associated with decreased symptoms of poor mental health and may lead to improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.
That really is extremely important advice and shows that vapour does not – as far as we know – have any side-effects with whatever medication a person has been prescribed.
NHS Trusts with mental health units are also huge supporters of vaping among their patients with some hospitals offering vending machines on site and as we know others now have vape shops!
A survey conducted by ASH of mental health trusts in England found that the vast majority (91%) allow vaping by some or all patients within the trust, with 42% providing them to patients for free.
E-cigarettes can be purchased on wards in 20% of trusts, from vending machines in 18% of trusts, and hospital shops in 22% of trusts.
There was variation in where patients could use e-cigarettes with 44% of trusts permitting vaping in private rooms, 13% permitting vaping in communal areas and three quarters of trusts permitting vaping in ward courtyards (76%) and hospital grounds (73%).
Five trusts (11%) had installed ‘it’s OK to vape’ signs.
It really is an excellent set of guidelines from the MHSP and includes more than a few blowing away of the vaping myths moments.
Yet another and much respected UK health organization is taking a pro-vaping stance – compare that to the hysteria over in America!
This piece from MHSP is excellent to say the least and should be read not just by mental health professionals but by all in the field from GPs to oncologists.
It covers pretty much all you need to know about the benefits of making the switch from smoking to vaping in a very readable way.
So…vaping and mental health – does it acerbate depression – make people depressed or worsen mental illness?
It would seem not and if anything those switching to e-cigs will see an overall improvement in quality of life – health and of course finances.
So no – vaping will NOT cause depression or make it worse…
Whilst this is a serious subject – I have known more than a few vapers become depressed due to not being able to afford that new shiny mod or tank 😉
I know there’s a lot of folks within the vape community who have and are suffering from various levels of mental health issues.
So let me know in the comments below if vaping has indeed helped lift some or even all of the problems you or someone close has been suffering from.