January 30, 2017
2 min read

Smoking cessation may improve depression

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Individuals with depression who participated in a smoking cessation clinic and stopped smoking reported improvement in depression 1 year later, suggesting that smoking abstinence may improve depression.

“This study draws attention to a vulnerable group who need more specialist support in their attempts to give up smoking,” Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, said in a press release. “When it comes to tobacco-related illness, reducing the dramatic difference in the health of social groups is a really important issue. Because of this, it's vital to protect funding for specialist stop smoking services, which remain the most effective route to quitting.”

To assess associations between depression and smoking abstinence, researchers conducted an observational study using data from a smoking cessation clinic in Czech Republic from 2008 and 2014. Analysis included two cohorts of 3,775 individuals, of which 14.3% reported mild and 15.4% reports moderate/severe depression at baseline, and 835 individuals who abstained from smoking for 1 year.

Abstinence was lower among participants with mild (32.5%; OR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.54-0.97; P = .002) and moderate/severe depression (25.8%; OR = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.45-0.74; P < .001), compared with participants without depression (40.5%).

Most participants with baseline depression who abstained from smoking reported lower depression levels at follow-up. Overall Beck’s Depression Inventory scores improved from 9.2 to 5.3 (P < .001).

Time (P < .001) and baseline depression level (P < .001) had significant main effects on follow-up depression.

Researchers also noted a significant interaction between time and depression (P < .001).

“Our study shows that stop smoking services can be very effective at supporting people with depression, and that increased visits greatly improve the success of quit attempts,” study researcher Leonie Brose, MSc, Dipl-Psych, PhD, of King’s College London, said in the release. “The findings also suggest that giving up smoking may improve depressive symptoms, improving mental as well as physical health. While there's been an overall fall in smoking rates in recent decades, there hasn’t been the same decline among people with mental health problems. We hope that this research will help boost mental health services and stop smoking services in the U.K. giving effective support and medication to those who need it most.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.