While we may commonly associate smoking with a form of stress relief, a new British study is revealing that smokers are 70% more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety in comparison to non-smokers. A research team comprised of researchers from the British Heart Foundation and the University College London studied the mental health and smoking habits of 6,500 people. Over 18% of smokers reported experiencing anxiety and depression, in comparison to 11.3% of former smokers and 10% of non-smokers.

The researchers are considering the possibility that smoking may actually be the source of these mental health challenges. Associate medical director Mike Knapton explains:

“The perception of a cigarette relieving stress is a misinterpretation of what’s actually happening — what you’re really experiencing when you light up a cigarette is the early signs of withdrawal. Those symptoms of withdrawal are very similar to stress … The cigarette will relieve those symptoms, and you think that it’s making you feel better, but all it’s doing is abolishing the early signs of nicotine withdrawal. Then of course this cycle goes on cigarette after cigarette.”

Using addictive vices to help cope with mental health disorders is generally discouraged, as these substances believed to “take the edge off” often end up becoming a significant problem or addiction over time.

Click here to read the full article by Lindsay Holmes for Huffington Post.