(HealthDay News) — Those who stop smoking have significant improvements in mental health compared with those who continue to smoke, both in healthy and clinical populations, according to research published online February 13 in BMJ.

Gemma Taylor, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues identified and performed a meta-analysis of 26 studies that assessed mental health before smoking cessation and at least six weeks after cessation in healthy and clinical populations. Subjects were a median of 44 years old and were followed for a median of six months. Subjects smoked 20 cigarettes a day on average and were moderately nicotine dependent.

The researchers found that, compared with those who continued smoking, those who quit smoking had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, and stress. They also had significant increases in psychological quality of life and positive affect. The effect size was similar in healthy and clinical populations, including those with psychiatric disorders or mood and anxiety disorders.

“Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke,” Taylor and colleagues conclude.

One author has received fees from manufacturers of smoking cessation aids and manages a nicotine patch trial. Another author disclosed financial ties to Pfizer and McNeil.

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