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Smoking and Depression

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 6 Jan 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Smoking Quit Depression Teens Adults

Learning about the factors that are linked to depression is important to help us find better ways to treat the symptoms of depression. Two new studies suggest that smoking may increase a person’s risk of suffering from depression.

Higher Risk of Depression

In the first study, a set of researchers surveyed over one thousand adults. The findings indicated that there was a significant link between smoking and depression. Results showed that people who were addicted to nicotine were more likely to show the symptoms of depression in comparison with people who were not addicted to nicotine. In fact, the risk was more than double.

Smoking Leads to Depression Symptoms

One challenge with this type of study, however, is that it could be criticised on the grounds that a person who is depressed is more likely to smoke. To address this flaw, researchers used a very advanced system of analysis to show that it was indeed smoking which increased the risk of a person developing the symptoms of depression.

Why Are Smokers More Likely to Become Depressed?

The question remaining is why a smoker would be at a higher risk for depression. It is not yet clear from this study and further research is needed. It does seem that perhaps smoking triggers changes in the brain, particularly where neurotransmitter activity is involved.

Smoking and Depression in Teens

In a second recent study, it was found that smoking could increase the risk of depression symptoms in teens. For some teens, they begin smoking because they think it helps with anxiety and other emotional problems. Smoking is seen as a way to relax and fit in better socially.

These perceived emotional benefits are incorrect, however, as smoking in teens can lead to depression symptoms such as anxiety. While a teen may initially think that smoking improves their mood, long-term smoking puts a teen at a higher risk of developing the symptoms of depression.

To originally test out their theory, scientists took a broad cross-section of teen students, including non-smokers, smokers who smoked to self-medicate, and finally smokers who did not smoke to self-medicate. The teens were chosen across numerous different social and economic backgrounds.

A survey was used to question how smoking made the teen feel, such as whether they had trouble sleeping or if they felt sad or nervous. The smokers who used cigarettes specifically to improve their mood had higher risks of depression symptoms compared to the teens who didn’t smoke at all and compared to the teens who didn’t smoke as a means to self-medicate.

Health Effects of Smoking

Smoking brings many detrimental health effects to both adults and teens. While there are a number of different reasons people start smoking, the belief that smoking can help with emotions is an incorrect one. These recent study results suggest that the opposite is true, which is an important finding to convey to those who are smokers or have not yet begun the habit. Whether young or old, it gives everyone another reason to avoid smoking in the first place or to visit a doctor for support to quit smoking.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Sydbear - Your Question:
I just recently found out that I failed all of my classes at my university resulting in a 0.33 GPA. I experienced a mental breakdown. I cut all my hair off and cried about it for 6 days. I've gone 15 days without a cigarette (I'm trying to quit). I keep experiencing violent mood swings, killer migraines, lethargy, increased appetite, excessive sleeping and a general sense of hopelessness. I'm 19 years old. I wasted two years at university and am taking a semester off. I don't know what to do.

Our Response:
You're doing amazingly, 15 days without a cigarette is brilliant and the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing will soon pass if you persist. Find a forum online and get some support from people who are in similar situations and do keep at it...you can turn things around!
OvercomeDepression - 6-Jan-16 @ 1:01 PM
I just recently found out that I failed all of my classes at my university resulting in a 0.33 GPA. I experienced a mental breakdown. I cut all my hair off and cried about it for 6 days. I've gone 15 days without a cigarette (I'm trying to quit). I keep experiencing violent mood swings, killer migraines, lethargy, increased appetite, excessive sleeping and a general sense of hopelessness. I'm 19 years old. I wasted two years at university and am taking a semester off. I don't know what to do.
Sydbear - 6-Jan-16 @ 4:58 AM
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