For many years, doctors have known that many smokers tend to be depressed. For this reason, smoking cessation must be accompanied by infinite precautions and it is not uncommon for some “addicts” to be advised to delay the difficult moment in order to achieve it during a more favorable period. In some adults who want to quit smoking, the use of antidepressants may also be required to increase the chances of success.
The findings of Goodman and Capitman at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, and at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachussetts, go against conventional wisdom. For the researchers, people do no pick up smoking because they are depressed but instead become depressed because of smoking.
The results of this study are clear. Smoking has been shown to be the parameter that increases the likelihood of developing depression. Smokers are four times more likely to suffer from depression, according to the researchers. Results since approved by other studies.
It is already known that some antidepressants increase the effectiveness of smoking cessation. Thus, the authors hypothesize that nicotine or other toxic substances found in tobacco could promote the onset of depressive symptoms. Like most drugs, nicotine binds to synaptic receptors in the brain and causes changes in metabolism within the central nervous system.
The researchers wanted to examine the development of smoking and depression association from early adolescence to adulthood. A cohort of adolescents (initially 924 students) was followed in nine waves of data collection ranging from 13 to 30 years. The researchers’ conclusion: the correlation between depression and adult smoking seems to be due to the links between smoking and depression established in early adolescence. (2)
An analysis of the results observed by Drs. Goodman and Capitman among the 6,947 non-smoking teenagers, on the other hand, revealed that “depression” does not cause someone to become “addicted”. In fact, initially depressed teens were no more likely than other teens to become regular smokers.
However, other studies show that suffering from depression triples the “chances” of becoming addicted to tobacco. Indeed, health authorities now say that people with depression may be tempted to abuse these substances to ease their anxiety. Thus depression can be linked to an addiction.
In 2017, a team of researchers compared 148 studies on depression and smoking. “Nearly half of the studies indicated that initial depression/anxiety was associated with some type of subsequent smoking behavior, while over a third showed that smoking was associated with later depression/anxiety. Few studies directly supported a two-way model of smoking and anxiety, with very few studies reporting nil results,” they report.
“The literature on the link between smoking and depression/anxiety is inconsistent with regard to the orientation of the most strongly supported association,” they conclude. Further studies will need to be completed to answer this question with certainty.
According to a study by Cancer Research UK, a British research center and charity against cancer, stopping smoking would help to relieve the symptoms of depression. Of the 3775 patients attending a Czech clinic to stop smoking, those who stopped smoking showed a visible improvement in their mental health. Two-thirds (66.3%) of those with severe or moderate depression no longer experienced symptoms.
In any case, quitting smoking has benefits for both morale and the body. In the short term as well as in the long term, smoking causes damage to the body and it is never too late to stop. Depression must also be managed independently of smoking.