Smoking raises depression risk

Teenage smokers who use cigarettes as mood enhancers are at a higher risk of depressive symptoms than non- smokers.

It is a general notion that depressed people smoke to feel better and gradually cope up, BBC radio reported.

To study the association between smoking habits and depression, researchers followed 662 Canadian high school teenagers (grades 7 to 11) who completed 20 questionnaires about their use of cigarettes to affect their mood for five years.

The participants were divided into three groups non smokers; smokers who did not use cigarettes to self-medicate, improve mood or physical state; and smokers who used cigarettes to self-medicate.

Depressive symptoms were measured using a scale that asked how often participants felt too tired to do things; had trouble going to sleep or staying asleep; felt unhappy, sad, or depressed; felt hopeless about the future; felt nervous or tense; and worried too much about things.

It was found that instead of lifting their mood, smoking raised symptoms of depression among teenagers with smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers having higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked.

The study suggests that smoking appears to be ineffective at reducing depressive symptoms and the perceived positive benefits may be the result of alleviation of symptoms of withdrawal and craving resulting from abstinence.