Smoking Dads’ Frequently Asked Questions About Nicotine And Depression

I grew up seeing my father with a lit cigarette between his fingers or in his mouth almost every hour. He told me that he had been smoking since he was 15 years old. Back then, he did it as a dare, but he tried it again and eventually got hooked. Dad said that he spent his allowance on cigarettes and would sneak food from home not to need to spend a dime for lunch at school. 


In reality, I was not against my father’s smoking in the beginning. He was always “surrounded by clouds” and could make different shapes with them, so I thought it was fantastic. Truth be told, whenever my friends and I would do pretend play, I would often hold a pen or crayon between my fingers and pretend to take a puff. 

However, when I was in third grade, I got diagnosed with asthma. My parents were surprised about it because I did not show symptoms until I was nine years old. Still, it was what it was, so all I could do was nebulize and stay away from exhausting activities and fumes. This diagnosis meant that Dad would need to be a few meters away from me if he wanted to smoke, and then he would have to shower before coming close to me so that I wouldn’t get a whiff of the cigarette.

Despite that, my father was fine with the new arrangement. He would do anything to make me safe – that’s how much he loved me. But deep inside, I knew that he was glad that we found a way for him to continue smoking. He would have stopped in a heartbeat if that’s necessary for my well-being, but I was also sure that he did not want to do that.

Then, The Inevitable Happened

When my asthma became controllable after a couple of years through exercise and moderation, my parents decided that we were all prepared for another baby in the family. They got pregnant quickly, and my little sister, Samantha, arrived in no time.

Unfortunately, Samantha came as a premature baby with congenital heart disease. Her condition made her so fragile that my mother had to wear a sterilized gown that doctors wear during surgeries, as well as gloves, a mask, and a hair cap, before holding Samantha. As for my father, since the doctor found out that he was smoking, they advised him to look at the baby through the glass wall because the smell of cigarettes might not be good for Samantha.

The news obviously devastated my father. Seeing your child in such a vulnerable state and not even being able to hold her hand could make anyone’s heartbreak. Hence, Dad made the abrupt decision to quit smoking. We were all unable to believe it at first, but then my father made a show of ransacking his cigarette stash and crushing every stick before dumping it all in the garbage. He also had the car and the entire house thoroughly cleaned to get rid of the smell of cigarettes, which seemed to stick to all the walls as Dad smoked in there long before I was born.

When The Depression Reared Its Ugly Head 

I thought that my father’s smoking problem ended when he dumped his cigarettes in the trash. However, no one was prepared for the withdrawal symptoms that he experienced afterward – not even him.

Dad was finally allowed to hold Samantha on the day that she got released from the hospital. He also got a paternity leave so that he could spend time with all of us. It was an excellent choice, considering Mom needed help at home while her surgical wound from the C-section she went through was still healing. She trusted my father to look after everyone, including the house.

At first, my grandmother from my Mom’s side offered her help, but Dad said he could do everything independently. He tried to prove that by making my breakfast in the morning and preparing my lunch and snacks for school. Then, he would go outside for 15 minutes with the baby so that Samantha could get her daily dose of vitamin D. After that; he would start cooking for Mom, clean the house, wheel out the garbage bins, and do everything else that Mom used to do. 


By the end of the second week, though, Dad began to mess up with his activities. One time, he slept in and forgot to wake me up, so he had to drive me to school and buy my breakfast, lunch, and snacks at the local gas station. He also left the baby’s feeding bottles boiling for hours, so he was left with melted plastic in the pot. My father finally broke down and cried when he couldn’t make Samantha stop crying one midnight, but he didn’t want to give her to Mom, insisting that he could handle her. In the end, both Dad and the baby were crying all night long.

The next day, Mom made Dad believe that we would go hiking since she was already feeling better. Instead, she drove to a psychologist’s clinic to have Dad’s mental health checked. It turned out that he was dealing with postpartum depression (Yes, it exists in men, too!), and nicotine withdrawal could be worsening its symptoms.

Can nicotine cause depression? 

Yes, nicotine can cause depression. According to research, smokers have a higher chance of developing depression than non-smokers.

Does nicotine act as an antidepressant? 

Yes, nicotine technically acts as an antidepressant. However, constant nicotine use can be harmful to your mental health.

Why does nicotine make me sad? 

Nicotine makes you sad because your dopamine level drops after a while when its effect goes away.

Is smoking good for depression? 

Smoking can be good for depression initially, given that it increases your dopamine level and makes you ‘high.’ However, it cannot do you good if you smoke too often. 

Is smoking bad for depression? 

Yes, smoking is bad for depression. That is especially true if you are a chain-smoker.

Do cigarettes help anxiety? 

No, cigarettes do not help decrease anxiety. The opposite may feel like it at first as it makes you somewhat high, but when you come down, you may get more anxious than ever.

Why do I get dizzy when I smoke? 

You get dizzy when you smoke because carbon monoxide hits your system and robs you of oxygen, making you dizzy.

Are smokers happier? 

Yes, smokers tend to be happier while smoking, considering the nicotine boost their dopamine level. 


Does quitting nicotine help anxiety? 

Yes, quitting nicotine use helps decrease your anxiety level.

Does nicotine worsen anxiety? 

Yes, nicotine can worsen anxiety over time.

How long does depression last after quitting smoking? 

You may get depressed three days after you quit smoking. Then, it can last up to two weeks.

Why do you get angry when you quit smoking? 

Experiencing anger after you quit smoking is a withdrawal symptom. 

Do you get angry when you stop smoking? 

Yes, some people get angry when they stop smoking. It is expected since they go through a withdrawal phase.

What does cigarette withdrawal feel like? 

When you experience cigarette withdrawal, you feel like you can do anything to get nicotine in your system. That includes eating nicotine gum, sticking a nicotine patch on your body, or even sitting next to a smoker. Then, you may become temperamental for a few days.

How many days does nicotine withdrawal last?

Nicotine withdrawal may last up to 14 days.


Final Thoughts

My father struggled with postpartum depression and nicotine withdrawal for a couple of months. It would have gotten worse if he did not let my mother step in and share his load, which was clearly a little too much for him. He eventually managed to shake off both conditions, and it’s been two decades since the last time that my father had a puff.