Smoking and Depression
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 DepressionIn 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 SymptomsOne 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 TeensIn 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.