Study Suggests Depression and Smoking go Hand in Hand
According to a report based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of 2005 through 2008, 43 percent of adult smokers age 20 and older have depression.
Among men ages 40 to 54, it was noted that 55 percent of those who smoke have depression. Among women ages 20 to 39 who smoke, 50 percent have depression leading researchers to believe depression and smoking go hand in hand.
The enormity of the link was “surprising”, said researcher Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, which published the findings April 14. "The relationship between depression and smoking has been getting stronger over time," she said.
The percentage of adults who were current smokers tended to increase with an increase in depression severity. Even persons with mild depressive symptoms below the threshold for the diagnosis of depression were more likely to be smokers than people with no depressive symptoms.
Adults with depression were more likely to smoke over a pack a day and smoke their first cigarette within 5 minutes of waking up, which is a clear indicator of heavy smoking. Heavy smoking is highly correlated with inability to quit.
The few studies that have examined ability to quit smoking in persons with depression have shown that with intensive treatment, persons with depression can quit smoking and remain abstinent. These intensive cessation services often use treatments that are also used for depression, including cognitive-behavioral therapy or antidepressant medications.
Symptoms of depression can be physical or psychological and include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced sex drive, excessive fatigue or feelings of worthlessness or guilt. According to the World Health Organization, depression will become the number two disability world wide by the year 2020.