Every smoker brags about how sorted he feels after one drag of a lit cigarette. But then the same smoker seems to love dark corners, loneliness and is low or lost most of the times. Does smoking cause depression or does depression cause smoking? The answer to this question is not easy to find but there are reasons to believe that smoking can possibly lead directly to depression.
A 2008 study that surveyed 3,000 people found that while smokers had a 6.6 per cent risk of developing lifetime frequency of major depression; it was 2.9 per cent for non-smokers.The Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) survey revealed that about 70% of male habitual smokers and 80% of female habitual smokers had major depression.
The study also established that 30% of smokers show some symptoms of depression.
The root cause behind it is Nicotine! Acting as a stimulant it affects the release of neurotransmitters in the brain; consequently, the brain becomes so addicted to the drug that it no longer functions normally without it. After 20-30 minutes of smoking the last cigarette, nicotine withdrawal begins and this leads to anxiety, which is very closely related to depression.
Constant changes in the nerves system cause depression, which usually lasts for lifetime frequency and is difficult to overcome. “So smoking as well as quitting smoke, both cause depression. Depression occurs when the smoker tries to abstain himself from smoking. It’s necessary to monitor a quitter,” points out Dr.Shreepad Khedekar, Clinical Director of Imperial Clinic, Mumbai.
In another study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2010, 1265 individuals were studied from birth until the age of 25. The purpose: To isolate the effects of smoking on psychological distress from all the other environmental and hereditary factors that may also cause symptoms of depression. After three years the following results were published:
Nicotine dependence and depression have a reciprocal relationship. They tend to reinforce and amplify each other when they are both present in the individual.
There is a direct causal chain leading from nicotine dependence to depression.
There is no direct causal chain leading from depression to nicotine dependence.
Apart from depression, smoking leads to a list of life threatening conditions that can be fatal. So instead of battling daily stresses with that temporary 'rush' to relieve your mind, you are actually amplifying the impact of those stresses by making yourself more likely to become depressed.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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