Smoking and Depression





Researchers have made bold declarations that smoking can lead to depression. Depression is associated with an increased frequency of smoking. It has been found that smokers tend to be twice the times depressed than non-smokers. Depression is an issue of focus for most smokers. Many people have relapsed during depression. Also, attempts to quit smoking often result in decreased level of pleasure and awful mood swings.

Symptoms of Depression

People who have been diagnosed with depression before one should notice the minor symptoms carefully as that might give an insight into the matter. If the smoker is having drastic mood changes while trying to quit smoking and if they stay for a long period of time, a visit to the physician is strongly advised. If the smoker is suffering from temporary emotional upset, the feelings will go if he tries to relax.

Here are some of the symptoms of depression-

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Gloomy feeling
  • Difficulties in having a sound sleep
  • Emotional irritability
  • Failure in concentration
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies

How Smoking and Depression is Related?

How Smoking and depression is related is not yet clear. Few experts have a few theories and opinion that Nicotine improves the human response to reward. According to a research done by the Harvard Medical School, half the cigarettes sold in United States are purchased by individuals suffering from mental illnesses. Eden Evins, a Harvard professor of psychiatry stated that Nicotine binds receptors in the brain and stimulates the release of glutamate and dopamine, the chemicals that are responsible for pleasure.

According to the researchers, there is a cause and effect relationship between smoking which increases the risk of the symptoms of depression. Researchers after a series of survey also found that relief from negative emotions is not due to nicotine intake but rather the intensity of the situation. The major factor that supports the previous statement is the smoker’s expectations. As investigated by a team at University of Montana, they say that it’s the expectations about nicotine’s ability to eliminate negative mood play a major role in the relationship between smoking and depression. This expectation explains the fully explained link between depressive symptoms and smoking. However, there may be widely-held beliefs against this relation; there is enough evidence to support this relation.

Research suggests that cigarettes may contain some anti-depressant properties and thus this explains why smoking is more common in depressed patients. Also, several surveys have revealed that smokers who go through major conditions of depression are less likely to succeed in quit smoking programmes. There are thousands of chemicals in cigarette other than nicotine. All of those affect the mood in the same way as a group of anti-depressant medications known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs work. These MAOIs increase the levels of neurotransmitters which regulate the mood. Smoking thus offers a kind of self medication to depressed individuals.


Continuous smoking makes the brain adaptive to the presence of nicotine that it no longer functions normally without it. About after 20-30 minutes of smoking nicotine withdrawal begins. This leads to anxiety and ultimately depression.

Treatments for Smoking & Depression

The smoker undergoes depression after quitting smoking which can be tackled with help of medicines and other therapies as well.

Non-medicinal therapy

Smokers can replace nicotine with nasal spray, or chewing gum which is very effective. Cognitive and behavioral therapies also help in quitting smoking and treat depression. In behaviour therapy, the stimulus responses to cigarettes are changed. Smokers are rewarded for not smoking. Also, assistance is provided to smokers to help them solve their problems and manage stress. In Cognitive therapy, depressed heavy smokers are taught how to deal with the thoughts that result in loss of control after a temporary relapse. It gives training as to how to avoid disastrous depression after a temporary relapse.

Medicinal therapy

There is an effective anti-depressant Bupropion marketed under the name of Zyban. It is a safe and effective non-nicotine treatment that helps in breaking the habit of smoking and also in dealing with the withdrawal symptoms. It prevents weight gain and improves the mood of the patients.

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