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Stop Smoking, Reduce Risk of Depression?

A new research study suggests smoking could increase the risk of depression.

The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand, followed over 1,000 people.

When participants were 18, 21 and 25 years of age, they were asked about their smoking habits and whether they had symptoms of depression.

The researchers found a strong association between smoking and depression. People who were dependent on nicotine were more than twice as likely to have symptoms of depression as those who were not nicotine dependent.

The researchers looked at this relationship in more detail using a sophisticated statistical technique called structural equation modeling (SEM).

This analysis showed that smoking increases the risk of developing depressive symptoms, rather than people being more likely to smoke because they’re depressed.

Commenting on the results, lead researcher Professor David Fergusson said: “Our findings are consistent with the conclusion that there is a cause and effect relationship between smoking and depression, in which cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing symptoms of depression.

“The reasons for this relationship are not clear. However, it’s possible that nicotine causes changes to neurotransmitter activity in the brain, leading to an increased risk of depression.”

Professor Fergusson and colleagues do emphasize that their study does not prove that smoking causes depression, and said that the study “should be viewed as suggestive rather than definitive.”

Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists

Stop Smoking, Reduce Risk of Depression?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Stop Smoking, Reduce Risk of Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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