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Study Finds E-Cigarettes & Vaping May Impact Mental Health

— April 9, 2024

New research shows vaping products can cause anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.

Recent research into the health implications of vaping, particularly among young adults, in a study conducted by the University of Surrey in England, has shed light on how e-cigarettes and other devices may impact mental health and cause sleep disturbances.

The research, including over 300 university students, reveals a concerning association between vaping and an array of mental health challenges, including heightened anxiety, depression, and an increased tendency to focus on negative thoughts, alongside sleep-related issues such as insomnia and emotional struggles, including feelings of loneliness.

This study, published in the journal Healthcare, highlighted a significant distinction between young adults who vape and their non-vaping counterparts, with approximately 15% of the participants identified as vape users. The findings suggest that those who engage in vaping exhibit lower levels of mindfulness and poorer sleep quality. Furthermore, they are more prone to rumination, experience a sense of isolation, and demonstrate a lack of self-compassion compared to those who do not vape. Additionally, the group using vape products reported consuming alcohol at a notably higher rate, further complicating how vaping can impact mental health.

Dr. Simon Evans, a neuroscience lecturer at Surrey and co-author of the study, pointed out a particularly alarming trend among vape users: a staggering 95.9% of them exhibited clinical levels of anxiety symptoms. This observation raises concerns about a possible vicious cycle where individuals use vaping as a means to alleviate anxiety, only to face subsequent sleep disturbances that could potentially exacerbate their mental health issues over time.

Study Finds E-Cigarettes & Vaping May Impact Mental Health
Photo by Eduardo Lempo from Pexels

The study also looks into the relationship between vaping and mindfulness. Given the evidence suggesting mindfulness can aid in cessation efforts among cigarette smokers, the research suggests that interventions focused on enhancing mindfulness and addressing rumination could be beneficial in reducing vape usage among young people. This approach hints at the possibility of tackling the issue from a psychological and behavioral standpoint, offering a ray of hope for those seeking to overcome the grip of vaping.

How vaping can impact mental health and sleep patterns highlights a critical need for further investigation. While the study presents a compelling case regarding the correlation between vaping and various mental health challenges, determining the precise nature of this relationship—whether vaping leads to anxiety and sleep issues, or if individuals with such preexisting conditions are more inclined to vape—remains a difficult task.

Despite these findings, the study also offers a glimmer of optimism, noting the relatively low percentage of vape users among the surveyed group. This observation suggests that, perhaps, the issue is not as widespread among the youth as previously feared. However, it does not diminish the importance of addressing the potential risks associated with vaping, especially considering the long-term implications for mental health and wellbeing.

The University of Surrey’s research, in essence, contributes to the growing body of evidence on the adverse effects of vaping, highlighting the urgent need for awareness and intervention strategies to mitigate these risks. As the conversation around vaping continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly clear that understanding and addressing the mental health and sleep disturbances associated with vape use is crucial for safeguarding the health of young adults.


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