Does Vaping Affect Mental Health?

There are many questions surrounding vaping and one of those is surrounding research that has demonstrated a possible link between vaping and mental health concerns. There is an indicated link between nicotine and the exacerbation of depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and ADHD, to name a few. While studies on vaping and e-cigarettes are more recent, the research conducted on nicotine has been around for decades and nicotine is the main component found in vapes. Thus, many of the studies revolve more around the nicotine found in vapes than the act of vaping itself. 

How Does Vaping Cause Depression?

There is a connection that exists between nicotine and depression. Nicotine is the main addictive component found in vapes and e-cigarettes. When nicotine is depleted from the system after being consumed regularly, the individual may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and mood swings. The main reason is that nicotine affects the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain that control dopamine and serotonin levels which control mood regulation. Although some people vape to alleviate negative emotions or reduce stress, it may actually act to increase depressive symptoms over time. 

Does Vaping Cause Anxiety?

Some are drawn to the initial feelings the nicotine in vaping or e-cigs provide, which are relaxation and calm. This leads many to ask, “Does vaping help with depression and anxiety?” If too much nicotine is consumed and then once the nicotine in the system subsides, there is a period of withdrawal which often leads to a stressed out, jittery feeling. Anxiety and nervousness increase, especially in individuals who are prone to anxiety. The consumption of nicotine activates the body’s stress response system which floods the body with cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones exacerbate anxiety, particularly when nicotine is consumed consistently.

Psychotic Disorders & Vaping

Vaping nicotine, or using e-cigarettes, has been linked to exacerbating psychotic symptoms in those that already have a mental health disorder. For instance, for this with schizophrenia, vaping has been shown to increase delusions and hallucinations. It may also interfere and interact with antipsychotic medications, decreasing the efficacy of such medications and thereby increasing psychotic symptoms.

Vaping & ADHD

Nicotine found in vapes and e-cigarettes has been proven to affect attention and one’s ability to focus and control impulsive behaviors. The difficult part is that nicotine has incorrectly been assumed to improve concentration. While it may do so for an initial short span of time, the long-term effects of nicotine on the brain indicate it does exactly the opposite.  Thus, consuming nicotine by vaping can worsen ADHD symptoms over a prolonged period of use.

Long Term Mental Effects of Vaping

While research on vaping is controversial and fairly new in the scope of its lifespan, there is a plethora of evidence regarding nicotine and how it affects mental health. With nicotine as the main component of vapes and e-cigarettes, the effects of nicotine on mental health apply to vaping. The long and short of it is that there is ample evidence to support that vaping can negatively affect you emotionally and physically. For support with vaping, alcohol use disorder, substance use disorders, and other substance use concerns, use the free SBIRT assessment tool. You’ll find resources for support right at your fingertips with just a click.