Does smoking cause depression?

by Bhushan

Posted on March 17, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Most of us are familiar with the impact of smoking on physical health, but will the disease also affect our mental and emotional wellbeing? After discovering a correlation between smoking cigarettes and depression a recent study indicates that it can.

The latest work is appearing now in the PLOS ONE issue.

Prof. Hagai Levine, from the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Environmental Medicine in Jerusalem, Israel, is the research paper's senior author and supporting professor.

Within it, Prof. Levine and collaborators demonstrate that current literature provides hints pointing to smoking as a predisposing factor to depression.

For example, in people who smoke, depression appears to be twice as common as those who don't, although it's not yet clear which causes. However, some researchers think smoking can lead to depression, not vice versa.

However, other studies have shown that people who have never smoked usually have a higher quality of life linked to wellbeing (HRQoL), as well as reduced anxiety and depression.

Prof. Levine and his team agreed to research the relationship between HRQoL and smoking among students in Serbia to help shed some light on the problem. In low-and middle-income countries, few studies have looked at this relationship.

However, more than 25 percent of people live in Serbia and other Eastern European countries smoke, which is another explanation of why it is of concern to research this subject in this community. Furthermore, about a third of students in Serbia smoke.

Studying Cigarettes and Mental Wellbeing

The latest research included evidence from two cross-sectional surveys that collected information from two universities: Belgrade University and Pristina University. The former has around 90,000 students and the latter has about 8,000 students.

Of this number, 2,138 students were enrolled into their study by the researchers. The students enrolled in daily health checkups at the University of Belgrade between April and June 2009, and at the University of Pristina between April and June 2015.

Participants received information about their social and economic circumstances— such as their age, socioeconomic class, place of birth, and education of parents— as well as information about any underlying pre-existing conditions. Participants have received information about their health and behaviors, such as smoking status, drug consumption, exercise levels and eating patterns.

For the purposes of this report, the researchers categorized people who smoked at least one cigarette a day, or 100 cigarettes a lifetime as "smokers."

Tobacco has affected mental health adversely

Overall the study showed that smoking was correlated with getting a higher BDI percentage. For a fact, the students who drank were two or three times more likely than those who had never drunk or experience a psychiatric disorder.

14 per cent of people who smoked had depression at Pristina University, although just 4 percent of their non-smoking counterparts had the disease. 19 percent of people who drank at Belgrade University had depression, compared to 11 percent of those who didn't drink.

People who smoked daily often showed more depressive symptoms and worse mental health, as demonstrated in the criteria of "vitality" and "social work."

"These findings reinforce the need for more study into the relationship between smoking, mental health, and quality of life, with consequences for prevention, diagnosis, and care," the authors conclude.

Prof. Levine adds, "Our research adds strong connections between smoking and depression to the rising body of evidence."

He proceeds to caution about the risks of smoke, and urges lawmakers to help prevent those hazards.

"I encourage colleges to campaign for the health of their students by establishing' Smoke-Free Campuses' which not only prohibit campus smoking but also cigarette advertisements."

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