A study published this month in the journal Addiction shows that people with depression make more attempts to quit smoking than non-depressed people. Unfortunately, it does not take long before they relapse again.
Study Shows Depression Increases Chance of Relapse
This new research was conducted by the Society for the study of Addiction using participants in the Four Country International Tobacco Control Study (ITC-4). According to the U.S National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, the sample study (ITC-4) includes smokers from Canada, USA, UK and Australia.
A total of 6811 tobacco smokers were used in the research. They participated in telephone surveys in which the researchers measured whether the participants had been diagnosed with depression. In all instances, over the course of a year, those who were depressed tried to quit smoking more than those who were non-depressed. The researchers also found that the depressed people who managed to quit smoking relapsed just after a month. Gender also played a significant part with researchers finding that their conclusions were stronger in women than men.
Researchers found that the characterization of depressed people of lacking motivation is debunked by this study. According to Cantech Letter, the study authors said, “The general finding of increased quitting among people with signs of depression does not support a helplessness model of depression, which would predict less quitting activity.”
They also added, “A possible interpretation of these findings is that smokers with depression have heightened awareness and worry over smoking’s negative impact on [their health], [thereby] helping to motivate more quit attempts.”
Not much research has been done into the relationship between smoking and its effects on a person’s mood. Nicotine is known to uplift one’s mood and calm the nerves and might therefore have a positive impact on a depressed person. There is also a two-way relationship between smoking and depression in that,
What This Study Means for Future Treatment of Addiction
For one, this study will help mental health professionals make better decisions when dealing with depressed people. It has long been thought that people who are depressed lack motivation to do anything. But clearly, this new study shows that concern for their overall health acts as a key motivator to take action against their smoking addiction.
Despite having the motivation to quit smoking, other techniques should be incorporated to ensure the depressed individual does not relapse. For example, the individual can have a sponsor and they can also consider using products like nicotine patches to help fight the cravings that ensue.