Depression is no Obstacle to Quitting Smoking

Published April 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

According to a study published by the Medical Tribune News Service Saturday, smokers with a history of depression received only minimal help in quitting. They received self-help publications and clear instructions to quit smoking on a specific date seven days after their initial interview with researchers.  

Earlier research had indicated that individuals with a history of depression find it more difficult to quit or cut down on smoking than people who do not have a history of depression.  

But a recent study led by Raymond Niaura, researcher at Brown University School of Medicine and Miriam Hospital in Providence was contradictory. 

The study included 133 smokers, 41 of whom had a history of depression.  

"Although symptoms of depression don't influence success in quitting smoking in the short run, they may predict risk of later relapse after the people quit," Niaura was quoted as saying by the Tribune.  

Participants did show a documented increase in depressive symptoms approximately a month after an attempt to quit smoking.  

"It's not so much whether you have a history of depression but the level of current depressive symptoms that may be important," said Niaura.  

"It's also more clear that those people with more recent episodes of depression and more recurrent depression may be the ones who have the hardest time quitting smoking. 

"But perhaps the most interesting thing was that even though a history of depression didn't necessarily predict who would or wouldn't do well, it did predict who would go on to develop symptoms of depression about a month after the study," said Niaura.  

"The next question is, what happens after that point?"  

"That's the next step once we've identified history of depression as a risk factor for developing more depressive symptoms once people try to quit smoking. Now we need to know what the long-term implications are and who is ultimately able to quit or will relapse."  

But, at least in the short term, persons with a history of depression should be encouraged by the findings, according to Dr. Nancy Rigotti, director of tobacco research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.  

"It's a small piece of the bigger picture, but an important piece," said Rigoti. "Especially in the first month, people with a history of depression, but not currently having symptoms, can quit smoking. They have as good of a chance of quitting as anyone. I think it’s encouraging and good news. This says, it's definitely worth a try." –  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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