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Does Vaping Affect Antidepressants?

As vaping and e-cigarettes have become more popular in recent years, many health experts have warned that the use of these devices may lead to a variety of health problems, including heart and lung damage. What hasn’t been emphasized as much is the possible impact that they may have on users’ mental health. For example, does vaping affect antidepressants?

Does Vaping Affect Antidepressants?

Let’s begin our discussion of vaping and mental health by answering the question that we posed in the headline of today’s post: Does vaping affect antidepressants?

This question isn’t quite as simple as it may first appear. Vaping can involve a variety of different devices and chemicals, and the category of antidepressants contains several different types of medications. Given the many variables at play, we can’t provide a definitive yes or no answer to cover all forms of vaping and all types of antidepressants.

What we can do, though, is report that many reputable sources seem to agree that it’s not a good idea to vape while you’re taking medication for depression or other mental health concerns. Here are a few examples:

  • A May 2012 article in the journal Australian Family Physician reported that smokers metabolize certain antidepressants quicker than non-smokers do. This results in lower levels of the medication in the bloodstream, which can diminish their effectiveness.
  • A May 2016 report on the Pharmacy Times website noted that tobacco smoke affects liver enzymes that are essential to the “absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination” of many medications, including antidepressants.
  • According to a January 2022 study in the Medical Journal Armed Forces India, sertraline (Zoloft) is less effective at easing depression symptoms in people who smoke.

If you have questions about how vaping or smoking may affect any antidepressants or other mental health medications that you are currently taking, the best step is to consult with either the doctor who wrote the prescription or the pharmacist who filled it.  

Does Vaping Affect Mental Health?

In addition to potentially interfering with the effectiveness of antidepressants and other medications, smoking, vaping, and using e-cigarettes have also been linked with elevated rates some mental health concerns and a greater likelihood of experiencing more severe symptoms. The problems appear to be more intense among young people, which may be due to nicotine’s impact on developing brains.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has reported that nicotine use among people aged 25 or younger may be harmful to areas of the brain that are associated with mood, attention, and impulse control. The APA also cited a connection between e-cigarette use and increased severity of depressive symptoms among young people.

A February 2023 news release from the American Heart Association provided the following statistics about vaping and various mental health concerns:

  • A study involving more than 2,500 participants determined that individuals ages 13-24 who vape tobacco, THC, or both substances had higher rates of anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation when compared with others in the same demographic group who had never used e-cigarettes or vapes.
  • In that study, the depression rate was twice as high among young vapers than among those who didn’t vape.
  • Between 60%-70% of young people in the vaping group experienced symptoms of anxiety. The rate of similar symptoms in the non-vaping group was 40%.
  • About 50% of those in the vaping group reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous 12 months. In the non-vaping group, about 33% said they had thought about suicide during the same period

It is important to note that neither the APA data nor the statistics from the American Heart Association established a definitive cause-effect relationship between vaping and mental health struggles. This is consistent with prior research into the relationship between mental illnesses and other forms of substance abuse. 

In some cases, people who have depression or other mental health concerns turn to tobacco, nicotine, cannabis, and other substances in an attempt to self-manage their symptoms. In other cases, people begin to abuse substances first, then develop mental health challenges. 

Regardless of whether a person began smoking or vaping before or after they developed depressive symptoms, ending their use of tobacco and/or cannabis can be an important step toward improved mental health. 

Several studies have linked tobacco cessation with improved treatment outcomes, and (as reported in the prior section) quitting smoking may improve the effectiveness of antidepressants and certain other mental health medications.

Begin Treatment for Depression in Atlanta

Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers a full continuum of personalized services for adults who have been experiencing symptoms of depression and other mental health concerns. Our treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, also serves clients whose mental health struggles are accompanied by co-occurring substance use disorders (addictions).

Treatment options at our center include residential care, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). At each of these levels, our clients can benefit from an array of customizable therapies and support services, all of which are provided by a team of skilled and experienced professionals.

To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today. We look forward to answering all your questions and helping you determine if Peachtree Wellness Solutions is the perfect place for you or your loved one.