Monday, June 05, 2006

Depression and Smoking

(HealthDay News) -- Adding to the growing evidence that mental illness in childhood can lead to problems later in life, a new Finnish study suggests that depressed kids are more likely to grow up to become smokers.

Researchers who tracked 2,300 boys over a 10-year period reported that those who had symptoms of depression at age 8 were 20 percent more likely than others to smoke at age 18. The depressed boys were also 40 percent more likely to become heavy smokers. The study is apparently the first to find a link between childhood depression and adult smoking in a large sample of people, the researchers said. The findings were presented on May 25, 2006, at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting, in Toronto. For more on this story go here

Hmmmm, I wish they studied girls too.

I was a depressed child and am an adult who takes medication for depression. But I never smoked. Tried it once, hated it. Now, chocolate on the other hand....

Does this research generalize to any of you reading this?

APA Toronto 2006 Conference


Raine said...

I couldnt tell you if I was depressed at 8- I dont remember 8 LOLOL. I am bi-polar tho and I do remember being somewhat depressed at 12 or 13- nothing like what I experience now, but I think it was depession. I started smoking then and I have never been able to stop for more than a few months ever since. My daughter also became depressed and started smoking as a teenager. I have to say this tho. The reason I started smoking (this is embarassingly stupid - but I WAS 13) was that I wanted to blow smoke rings)

mysti said...

Interesting Study. I like you wish they had studied girls. I wonder why they didnt. My twin started smoking at 12 years old. I never thought of her as a depressed child. I always felt she just decided to be like our mother who was a heavy smoker. I on the other hand was depressed a lot of my child hood, yet I do not smoke. I like you tried it and hated it. Well I got very sick, so that cured me from wanting to ever try it again.

Dawn said...

The earliest I can ever remember being depressed was age 9 and I did start smoking at age 13. I don't think I was ever a heavy smoker, smoking at most a 1/2 a pack a day and had quit completely by age 23.

LOL with the chocolate, I hear ya on that one :)

Ian Lidster said...

Your point on girls was well taken, Deb, since young female smokers now outnumber young males. They use it for weight control, I understand. How sad. But, I think any substance abuse finds its source in childhood as a means of escaping reality.

survivor said...

Interesting. I was a depressed child who has grown into a depressed adult. I started smoking at the age of 9 and have failed in all attempts to quit - it's always been my stress reliever... but then again, so is chocolate!

Take care

United We Lay said...

Wow, as a soon to be mother of a boy who has a history of depression on both sides of his family, this is important information to look out for. My husband started drinking young - on boy scout trips, no less, though he rarely drinks now, but he still has a cigarette on occasion - again something he learned in the Boy Scouts. Anyway, thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

This is one reason that I think there should be routine and consistent depression screeing in pediatric primary care. Smoking is an awful addiction that leads to so many health problems. Once you start, it's hard to change, but this kind of information can really do a lot for prevention. Thanks for a great post Dr. Deb! And I see you on "healthpsych" once in a while so of course you know that your chocolate habit will not be your demise :).

Heidi said...

Tried smoking in High School because it was "cool"..It didn't last long, hated it and still do.

You just had to mention Chocolate..didn't ya! ;)

Id it is said...

Not really. I cannot apply this connection.

healthpsych said...

Interesting post.

I guess I need to read the study to see what other factors they controlled for to get the link between smoking and childhood depression. Cultural issues? Media messages ie. smoking is cool? Peer pressure? Among others.

Still..very sad that so many young people are still taking up smoking in spite of its known dangers.

Ms.L said...

Mmmmm,chocolate...what was the question again?? Tee Hee

I was not a depressed kid BUT I did smoke for 15 years or was way easier for me to quit then it was for my husband who was a depressed kid/adult.
I gave it up cold turkey,he struggled for years finally quitting for good this year.

Carolina Introvert said...

I was not a biologically depressed child - I think my depression was created by circumstances of my life. But who knows.... Anyway, not a smoker! I tried to smoke to be cool but hated it and don't even think I really inhaled.

As far as the study being done on boys only, isn't that historically the case? White males are the statistical norm in society, so anything different from that is abnormal (which would include girls, eh?) I don't know the statistics on that, but I bet I'm right.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Raine,
Smoke rings....who knew?!

Dear Mysti,
I guess if you are depressed there is a likelihood that one might turn to smoking. Not that it's a guarantee. But interesting, nonetheless. I hated the taste of cigarettes too.

Dear Dawn,
I wonder if depression leads a person to seek other sources of comfort. Like food, drink, smoking etc. And chocolate!

Dear Ian,
As always, you make great insightful and timely comments.

Dear Survivor,
I thought it was an interesting study. I wonder what a study like this would do with girls/women as subjects.

Dear united,
Interesting experience you hubby had in the scouts.

Dear Tiesha,
You make a most excellent point. Screening at young ages for a variety of issues is always so helpful. Prevention is always a preferred method in my book.

Dear Heidi,
You and me and our love of chocolate....

Dear Id It Is,
Thanks for your inout. The smoking doesn't really generalize to me either.

Dear Healthpsych,
It was a study that had thousands of subjects and was a decade long. I like studies like that, the longitudinal kind. I am going to read up on it more too.

Dear Ms L.
The cholocate thing is for another day, lol ;) So good that you quit and now that your hubby is nicotine free.

Dear Carolina,
Sadly, you are right...most research IS done with males, especially caucasian males. It is regrettable that a lot of research is culturally and monetarily skewed. Research does a disservice to us all when a study fails to include more of a sampling of the population. Depression can be situational, and can build over time. Whatever the cause, I always hope a person can navigate through and away from depression.


Hope said...

Could you visit
I am worried about them.

Anonymous said...

I was a depressed child for sure. I am definitely a depressed adult and take medication. I know that depression runs in families often times and have many, many family members who are depressed. They don't do anything about it though and most of them are smokers. I don't smoke and never tried it either. My oldest daughter was a depressed child and is a depressed adult as well. She's not a smoker though she is an overeater. She's past the age where I can make her do anything about it however so it's a tough one. I don't like that the study had only boys in it...I don't have sons so it's not much help to me! Maybe if they would correlate depression with addictions of any kind and not just smoking it might make more sense to me. As usual my dear, very informative. I love that about you. : )

Moof said...

Not really sure on that. I was unhappy at school - depressed even, but had a warm home life. Complications outside of my home though.

I did smoke for many years ... and quit more than 15 years ago.

Could be ...

chase said...

hello beautiful, sorry i've been away for a while.

Having grown up in an abusive household, i'm sure we were all depressed, all of my sister as well as my brother smoke. I started at 15, and stopped at 26 for a year, then started back and stopped at about 32 for about 6 years, just started last year, but haven't gone beyond one a day, which I know is really stupid.

So my question is, we all know that cigs kill, so do we start smoking as sort of a suicidal wish?
a path to death?

Wendy C. said...

Nope - I sometimes felt depressed as a kid, but smoking has always been repulsive to me...maybe because the stench of it is tied to so many unpleasant yelling adults with alcohol and smoke breath! Blah!

Fallen Angels said...

We started smoking at 12 and have never stopped for more than 10 days. I can't say for certain that there was childhood depression, but I will assume there was...the first suicide attempt was at 14.

Hope...JIP was online earlier today (6/5/06). They have a lot going on I know, but they also have a lot of people that care about them and we watch out for them.

Godwhacker said...

I had my mind made up. I was going to quit smoking after five years. The day was September 10, 2001. To quote the movie "Airplane" ~ "looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking". I have no doubt that there is a link between smoking and depression. Nicotine is like a psychological bandage for stress and depression. But it only works until you find you need another cigarette.

I did finally quit smoking some months latter, about the same time I got help for my depression.

alan said...

I don't know whether I could say depressed in the clinical sense; unhappy for sure! I started smoking at 15 and quit in my mid 30's.


Marj aka Thriver said...

Hi! How's it going? Blogger's been a bit clogged lately so I hope this goes through. I was wondering, would you be willing to submit one of your child abuse-related posts to my blog Carnival Against Child Abuse? You can visit my blog or to check it out. Thanks for considering!

Angel Chasse said...

Hey Dr Deb :)

Not the case for me. I was depressed as a kid, am depressed now, and never smoked. Or, should I say I tried it, but hated it?

One of the FEW things I don't do wrong... Now, if I could just stop eating cuz I am bored or emotional!! :):)

It always amazes me how many studies actually get done and published... I need to sign up to be studied sometime :):) Just kiddin...

Have a great day!!!

Angel Chasse (again)

Donna said...

I'm one of those, Deb, that started smoking at 13 or so and have never been able to quit, only cut back. The depression started around the same time, too, I think. Interesting post!

Joel said...

Not a smoker or a drinker here.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Wow! How do you get so much done so fast?! Thanks for submitting your child abuse awareness/educational post to the CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. You rock!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Hope,
Will do.

Dear Traci,
I am thinking that depression sets into motion many things. I know that looking for soothing can lead one into addictions of all kinds, just like you say.

Dear Moof,
So glad that you were able to quit.

Dear Chase,
I guess for some people they are attracted to the dangerous side of it, but many fall into addictions becasue initially the activities help to reduce emotional turmoil.

Dear Wendy,
I disliked smoking too. Hate the taste and the smell of it all.

Dear Fallen,
Wow, you have been thru so much.

Dear Godwhacker,
Timing *is* everything. Sounds like you went through quite alot. So wonderful to say you have moved through much of it.

Dear Alan,
Great that you were able to tame the nicotine beast. It is such a hard thing to quit.

Dear Marj,
I will do that now.

Dear Angel,
We each have a uniqueness that could influence research!! I hear you on the eating thing.

Dear Donna,
I would have liked to have seen research on girls as I said. Would bei nteresting to see if there are gender differences between depression, smoking etc. I know it can be so very hard to quit. I wish you well with your cutting back. It does help to lower the number you smoke. :)

Dear Joel,
Good to know. From what I have read on your blog, you have found other good ways to deal with the things life brings.

Dear Marj,
I fI don't do things right away, I can forget. So I try to keep the momentum going. Brain fogs often fall upon me! LOL. I look forward to reading the other posts on your carnival.


Nancy said...

Oh Dr Deb
I quit smoking almost 20 years ago. I quit by telling myself that I was not quitting I was stopping until I was 50. Then my kids would be old enough and I could do what I wanted.
Well, 50 is in a few years and I do not think I could start up again. I still love the smell of a just lit cigarette but the cost alone would kill me.
I do not have a history of depression but, I did/do have a troubled sister who caused many a problems within our family. So I guess I was depressed living my life as a very your teen with a drug addicted sister. Any how, I do not think any one ever truely loses the love of the addiction.
Good study, only if they included the whole human race.

Wanda's Wings said...

I can't remember not being depressed. Could not smoke because my asthma was so bad. But my sister who was (and still is) depressed smokes like a chimney. I also have two brothers that smoke.

jumpinginpuddles said...

wnpwith our background yes and we are smokers also and i dont like chocolate

astrorat said...

hai dr. d!!! :D how are you?
i like your post...

Assuming that the depression has biological underpinning, do you reckon that treating this depression would help elevate the smoking? Thus, would it be right to assume the most smokers have an underlying depression?

Rose said...

I smoked when I become worried or upset or down. But I wasn't ever depressed as a child that I can recall. I smoked for about three years and quit. I did it cause my college room mate did it. Stupid huh!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear NAncy,
I wish the study included females too.

Dear Wanda,
The data here will not generalize to everyone. It is important to know that when you read research, it is predictive, but with errors. I know, I know, that sounds like an oxymoron.

Dear Astro,
No, I would not assume that *all* smokers have a depression. The danger in research is to caution overgeneralizing the data. There are other factors. Addiction predilections, etc. that can explain why people smoke.

Dear Rose,
But you QUIT. That is the thing to celebrate. :)


phred said...

I never thought I was depressed as a child. I grew up in a good, loving family...
I sure do Enjoy my cigarettes though...
I am trying to quit. Not doing too well. :-(

jane said...

I think I'd disagree with that study. I would think someone who smokes & is depressed, as a teen, would do so because of their environment. Not smoke because they're depressed, or vice versa. Another possibility is that it could be an economic factor.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Phred,
Don't mistake that the research means anyone who smokes must be depressed. That is not the case. There is a link to depression. I hope you can quit, though. It is so hard to do, nicotine and all :)

Dear Jan,
I think you are right....there may be other factors. I am going to get the study and read it.


dragonflyfilly said...

i never smoked either, and as far as i know chocolate is not bad for your lungs (???)

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Dragonfly,
Everytime research reports that dark chocolate has benefits, I jump for joy!!!


M. Simon said...

Tobacco is a mild anti-depressant.

In other words "Well Duhhhhhhhhhhh".

BTW taking anti-depressants for depression is not an addiction.

Unless you count taking insulin for diabetes as addiction.

The current state of medical knowledge re: addiction is apalling. Science is way ahead of the practitioners.

Magic Word: sxoil (get some)

M. Simon said...

The whole idea of addiction is superstition.

People take drugs for the same reason doctors prescribe them - need.

In our society your need is not considered real unless blessed by a medical shaman.


"Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize an undercover dictatorship. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men, and deny equal privilege to others, will be to constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic, and have no place in a Republic. The Constitution of this Republic should make special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom." abridged quote --Benjamin Rush, M.D., a signer of the Declaration of Independence

Anonymous said...

For those of you who want to quit smoking, you might look at They advocate quitting cold turkey, with some fairly compeling arguments for that approach. In any case, there are many good articles, tips, and support to be found there.

Diana said...

I've worked on being emotionally healthy for 35 years and am diagnosed as clinically depressed. I'm on medication, in therapy and am currently taking a class in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I've quit smoking a thousand time, as Mark Twain said, and I've smoked for over 40 years. I've been through classes by ACA, AMA, ALA and HMO cessation programs, as well as quit on my own. Nothing has stuck quite yet. I'm using nicotine gum most of the time now, but I still smoke when I can't stand it (about once a week). I'm determined to be healthy, however! We women with "addictive" tendencies are a special subpopulation, and getting out from under smoking is extremely difficult for us (without picking up another addiction).

cheesemeister said...

Hey, Beavis and Butthead! It's about time--hell yeah!
I smoked for 17 years total but I don't know that it ever contributed to depressive feelings. I would sometimes feel anxious after having a cigarette. And it made my spastic colon act up, especially around that lovely time of month. That's one of the big reasons I quit doing it.
The reason I started smoking is that I wanted to look cool. This is why I kept doing it after the first cigarette, which frankly, tasted like burning dog crap. But once I got used to it I actually enjoyed a smoke. I was never a heavy smoker (about a pack a week) but I never want to do it again. Even with that small amount, my lungs feel a lot better without it. Plus it's SO expensive! And I would rather buy chocolate and music.

musik-addikt said...

I've suffered depression for many years and although I'm still semi-young. (19) I feel this is true, the only time I smoke or crave ciggarettes is when I'm starting on a downwards spiral. In fact I now use it as one of my warning signs!