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A new study from Washington University concludes that people can improve their mental health when they quit smoking.

Tech Times reports that two surveys of 35,000 people, conducted three years apart, included data from 4,800 smokers. Respondents who quit, or lessened, their use of tobacco products, were shown to have a higher recovery rate from addiction or psychiatric disorders.

Compared to those who continued to smoke, people who quit were also found to be less likely to suffer from ongoing drug and alcohol addiction.

Forty percent of daily smokers were classified as having a mood or anxiety disorder at the time of the first study, and 50 percent had a problem with alcohol. Nearly one-quarter had issues with other drugs.

Of those with anxiety and another disorder who continued to smoke, 42 percent had continued to suffer. Conversely, only 29 percent of those who quit tobacco had the same result. Depression was also reduced in people who cut their tobacco consumption by 50 percent.

These findings challenge a common acceptance of smoking among many in the psychiatric community. Mental health care professionals may ignore smoking while dealing with addictions to other drugs.

Lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD said, “Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary. The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”

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