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Vaping & Mental Health: Exploring The Connection

With the increase in vaping stats, there’s also been a significant rise in mental health disorders among youth and adults alike. This brings us to ask the debatable question: is vaping helping people battle their mental illnesses or worsening them instead? Or perhaps, what’s the connection between both? Well, how about reading this blog guide while we pose answers to these questions? Let’s begin;

Intro To Vaping

Vaping refers to the inhalation of vapour produced by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping devices. These devices heat a liquid (called e-liquid or vape juice) to create an aerosol, which is then inhaled.

The most popular vaping devices include;

E-cigarettes (Cigalikes)

Resemble traditional cigarettes in appearance and are usually rechargeable.

Vape Pens

They are larger than e-cigarettes and have a pen-like shape. They usually consist of a battery, a tank to hold the e-liquid and a button.

Pod Systems

Compact devices with refillable or replaceable pods containing the e-liquid. They are often user-friendly and popular among beginners.

Mods (Modified Devices)

These advanced devices allow users to customise various aspects, such as wattage and temperature. Mods often have larger tanks and longer-lasting batteries.

Disposable Bars 

Manufactured after their name, disposable vape bars have a limited puff range and non-rechargeable built-in batteries. After the puff runs out, people can discard these devices.

Ingredients Used In Vaping E-liquids

While vaping devices are quite essential, the other ingredients in e-liquids are also important and here’s a list of them;

Propylene Glycol (PG) & Vegetable Glycerine (VG): A synthetic thin liquid that helps carry flavour and provides a smooth and strong throat hit. Meanwhile, VG is thicker and helps with the vapour production.

Nicotine: A stimulant found in tobacco. While some e-liquids contain nicotine, there are also nicotine-free options.

Flavourings: Various food-grade flavourings are added to create different tastes, ranging from fruit and dessert flavours to menthol and tobacco.

The Rise In Popularity

Vaping has gained popularity across various age groups, with several factors contributing to its appeal:

Perceived Safety: Some individuals view vaping as a potentially safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.

Flavour Variety: The availability of a wide range of flavours attracts users, especially younger individuals, who may find the variety appealing.

Convenience: Vaping devices are often portable and easy to use, contributing to widespread adoption.

Social Influences: Social media and peer influence can play a significant role in the adoption of vaping, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

Marketing Strategies: Aggressive marketing by manufacturers has contributed to the popularity of vaping products.

The Connection Between Vaping & Mental Health 

The connection between vaping and mental health is quite complex and still requires a lot of research. However, it’s not impossible to find any common ground between both. With the ingredients added to the e-liquids, such as nicotine, (which can contribute to additional factors like addiction, dependence, and relaxation), it’s obvious these must be affecting the mind in some ways.

And to help you understand this connection better, here’s a list of common grounds between both;

Nicotine & Mental Health

Nicotine, a common component in many vaping products, is a psychoactive substance that can affect mood and cognition. Some studies suggest that nicotine may have both stimulating and relaxing effects, potentially influencing mental health conditions.

Addiction & Dependence

Further, nicotine is known to be addictive, and individuals who use vaping products with nicotine may develop dependence. Addiction can have implications for mental health, contributing to stress, anxiety, or mood disorders.

Correlation With Mental Health Issues

Individuals with existing mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, may be more prone to using substances, including vaping products, as a way to cope with their symptoms.

Youth & Vulnerability

Adolescence is a major period for brain development, and exposure to substances like nicotine during this time may have lasting effects on cognitive function and mental health. Additionally, there are concerns about the impact of nicotine on mood regulation in young individuals.

Stress & Coping Mechanisms

Some individuals may turn to vaping as a means of stress relief or coping with emotional challenges. Understanding the role of vaping as a coping mechanism and its potential impact on mental well-being requires further research.

Social & Peer Influences

The social context, including peer pressure and social norms, can play a significant role in both vaping behaviour and mental health outcomes, especially among adolescents and young adults.

Positive Impact Of Vaping On Mental Health 

First, let’s explore the brighter side of vaping and how it can improve people’s mental health;

Reduced Stress

Due to the added nicotine in e-juices, most vapers claim that inhaling and exhaling such flavoured vapour can provide a relaxing and stress-relieving experience. Further, some users even find the repetitive nature of vaping to be calming, offering a momentary escape from stressors.

Improved Focus

Next, using certain types of e-cigarettes or vaping devices can enhance concentration and focus. This could be attributed to the stimulation of the nervous system by nicotine, a common component in many vaping liquids.

Reduced Anxiety

Similar to stress reduction, vaping may help alleviate anxiety symptoms for some individuals. The act of inhaling and exhaling vapour might create a calming routine, and nicotine, in moderation, could have an anxiolytic effect.

Better Mood & Sleep

Users suggest that vaping can positively impact mood and sleep patterns. The relaxation associated with vaping, as well as the potential effects of nicotine on mood regulation, are cited as contributing factors to an improved sense of well-being.

Smoking Cessation Tool

One of the more widely accepted benefits is the use of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. Some people have successfully transitioned from traditional smoking to vaping, with the argument that it provides a less harmful alternative and can assist in gradually reducing nicotine intake.

Negative Impact Of Vaping On Mental Health 

Now, here’s the list of potential downsides your mental health can experience while vaping;

Nicotine Dependence

Vaping often involves the inhalation of nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Nicotine dependence can lead to physical and psychological reliance on the substance, creating a cycle of craving and withdrawal that can negatively impact mental well-being.

Negative Social & Peer Influence

Vaping is often prevalent in social settings, and peer pressure can play a significant role in its adoption. Being part of a social group where vaping is common may contribute to increased usage, and the social aspect of vaping might negatively impact mental health, particularly if it leads to dependency.

Anxiety & Depression

Nicotine, while initially providing a sense of relaxation or mood elevation, can contribute to anxiety and depression over time. The temporary relief from stress that nicotine provides may give way to increased feelings of anxiety and low mood during periods of withdrawal.

Affected Adolescent Brain Development

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of vaping on mental health. The brain undergoes significant development during adolescence, and exposure to nicotine during this critical period may impair cognitive functions, attention, and memory, potentially impacting mental health in the long term.

Increased Irritability In Mood

Nicotine withdrawal can further cause irritability and mood swings. Further, ex-smokers trying vaping with reduced nicotine consumption may experience heightened emotional sensitivity, making it challenging to cope with stress or frustration.

The Verdict 

As mental health is a sensitive topic and needs to be addressed with authentic research and relevant medical professionals, take a minute to weigh all the pros and cons of vaping before making any decision.

Though excessive amounts of anything result in undesirable results, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your nicotine intake and try to avoid both vaping and smoking if you haven’t tried any of them yet for better mental health.

However, if you experience an increase in worsened mental health issues while vaping, stop the habit immediately and consult a professional.

What do you think?

Written by alexjames

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