Secondhand Stress: Why Being Around Smokers Can Wreck Your Psychological Health

no smoking

Considering secondhand smoke leads to approximately 3,400 deaths annually from lung cancer alone, not to mention as many as 69,000 deaths from heart disease in the same time span, is it any wonder smoking bans are becoming more and more common in both public and private places throughout America? Not only that, but a sizeable 35 percent of children in this country, or 21 million of them, live in homes where residents or visitors puff around the place like it’s nobody’s business, spreading secondhand smoke all around the home and into the lungs of those in their vicinity. And recent research is showing that secondhand smoke can wreck your mind as well as your body!

A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry looked at secondhand smoke’s effects on 5,560 nonsmokers and 2,595 smokers.

Below are three things you should know about secondhand smoke’s adverse effects on your mind.

The more you breathe, the greater the risk

Secondhand smoke’s effect is greatest among people who live with a smoker. “We saw some distress even in the lowest levels of secondhand-smoke exposure, but the distress became statistically significant in the highest exposure group,” says study coauthor Mark Hamer, PhD. “These high-exposure people lived with a smoker, so they got constant exposure,” concluded Hamer, whose further qualifications include a senior research fellow in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

The effects of secondhand smoke could put you in the hospital

“We determined this using the General Health Questionnaire, which measures levels of depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and general negative mood,” Hamer admits.

Furthermore, the effects of secondhand smoke could also hurt your mental health. “During an average follow-up period of 5.9 years, we also found an association between high SHS [secondhand smoke] exposure and psychiatric-related hospital visits,” he continues. Smokers reported the greatest amount of psychological distress.

Lowering your exposure provides the best option

Even if you live with a smoker, you should set up a no-smoking policy. “Psychological distress became statistically significant for the high-SHS-exposure group, in other words people who lived with a smoker,” Hamer quips. “So, based on our study, if you live with a smoker, you should simply ask him or her not to smoke inside.”

Make sure to provide the support that the smoker in your household needs to stop puffing, even if it includes other health-conscious ways to stay healthy, such as eating right and getting frequent exercise, Hamer says. This will help protect your mind and body from the negative effects of tobacco smoke.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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