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Excerpts from: Study links teen smoking to symptoms of depression
It's commonly thought that teen depression
can lead to cigarette smoking, but a new study, published in the
October edition of Pediatrics, shows it's the smoking that increases the risk of depression.
"Cigarette use is a powerful determinant of
developing high depressive symptoms," says Elizabeth Goodman,
M.D., associate professor of pediatrics in the division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital Medical
Center of Cincinnati and lead author of the study. "In fact, nondepressed teens who smoke face approximately a
four times greater risk of developing depression than non-smoking teens."
Smoking's effect on the development of depression
may be attributable to central nervous system effects of
nicotine or other smoking by-products, according to Dr. Goodman. "The effectiveness of antidepressants in
smoking cessation, independent of previous or current depression, provide additional support for this view," she
While heavy cigarette use is not necessarily
a result of depression, Dr. Goodman's study shows that other social
factors do predict progression to heavy smoking. These include previous experimentation with tobacco products,
poor school performance, peer tobacco use, more frequent use of alcohol, and parental report of bad temper.
For healthcare providers, the study highlights
the importance of providing "anticipatory guidance" regarding
psychosocial functioning and tobacco use to teenagers, according to Dr. Goodman, and of encouraging
adolescents to stop smoking. "The findings of this study suggest that problem behavior, physical dependence, and
social influence all impact on the progression to heavy smoking in adolescents," she says.
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