The co-occurrence of cigarette smoking and bipolar disorder: phenomenology and treatment considerations

Bipolar Disord. 2011 Aug-Sep;13(5-6):439-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2011.00943.x.


Objectives: Despite recent advances in understanding the causes and treatment of nicotine dependence among individuals with psychiatric disorders, smoking among individuals with bipolar disorder (BD) has received little attention. The goal of this review is to synthesize the literature on the epidemiology, consequences, and treatment of smoking and nicotine dependence among individuals with BD and to delineate a future research agenda.

Methods: We conducted a PubMed search of English-language articles using the search terms bipolar disorder, mania, tobacco, nicotine, and smoking, followed by a manual search of the literature cited in the identified articles. Articles were chosen by the authors on the basis of their relevance to the topic areas covered in this selective review.

Results: Adults with BD are two to three times more likely to have started smoking and, on the basis of epidemiological data, may be less likely to initiate and/or maintain smoking abstinence than individuals without psychiatric disorders. Smoking cessation is achievable for individuals with BD, but challenges such as chronic mood dysregulation, high prevalence of alcohol and drug use, more severe nicotine dependence, and limited social support can make quitting more difficult. Effective treatments for tobacco cessation are available, but no controlled trials in smokers with BD have been conducted.

Conclusions: Cigarette smoking is a prevalent and devastating addiction among individuals with BD and should be addressed by mental health providers. Additional research on the mechanisms of, and optimal treatment for, smoking and nicotine dependence in this population is desperately needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • PubMed / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / metabolism
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation


  • Antipsychotic Agents