Smoking among teen-agers increases risk for anxiety disorders

November 07, 2000

New York, New York - In a longitudinal study published in the November 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and colleagues at Columbia-Presbyterian, the New York Psychiatric Institute, and Mount Sinai Medical Center provide evidence that teen smoking may lead to anxiety disorders in late adolescence and early adulthood.

An association of teen smoking with anxiety disorders has been known for some time, but whether anxious teens are simply more likely to become hooked on cigarettes or smoking itself increases the likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder has been unclear. "Some previous studies have suggested that anxious individuals may be more likely than others to begin smoking," Dr. Johnson, assistant professor of clinical psychology, explains, "Our findings clearly indicated that anxiety disorders during adolescence were not associated with increased risk for initiation of cigarette smoking during early adulthood."

The study has important implications for young people. In keeping with previous findings, Dr. Johnson observes: "Teens who smoke a pack of cigarettes per day or more are likely to experience difficulty quitting smoking. Many youths who smoke heavily as teen-agers continue to smoke well into adulthood." And, Dr. Johnson points out, "It appears that individuals who continue to smoke heavily during adulthood remain at high risk for onset of certain types of anxiety disorders." Therefore, preventing teens from getting hooked on cigarettes can promote mental as well as physical health into adulthood.

Many teens begin smoking to identify with an image of smokers as "cool," well-adjusted, and popular. Because of this tendency, replacing this attractive image with a portrayal of smokers as overly prone to panic attacks, anxiety, or agoraphobia might change teens' minds about taking up the habit. In their paper, Dr. Johnson and colleagues suggest that letting teens know about this risk "may increase the effectiveness of interventions that are designed to persuade young people to stop smoking cigarettes and to avoid initiating cigarette use."

Interviewing mothers as well as the adolescents themselves, Dr. Johnson and colleagues tracked the development of smoking habits and anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia among teens. When taking into account age, childhood temperament, depression, and the adolescent's alcohol and drug use, as well as the education, smoking habits, and mental health of the youth's parents, Dr. Johnson and colleagues found a strong association between smoking during adolescence and anxiety disorders during early adulthood, but not between adolescent anxiety disorders and cigarette smoking during early adulthood.

The longitudinal study helps answer a controversy about what comes first, heavy smoking or anxiety disorders, suggesting that the former may contribute to the onset of the latter. Previous studies demonstrated an association between smoking and anxiety problems among adolescents and adults. Hypothesizing that anxious teens might be more likely to succumb to peer pressure or to seek out the calming effects of nicotine, some researchers found that anxious and depressed teens were more likely to start smoking. On the other hand, other researchers reported that cigarette smoking seemed to keep anxiety levels high, and that daily smoking was associated with panic attacks in young adults. Consistent with this evidence, the current study suggests that heavy cigarette smoking may contribute to the development of certain types of anxiety disorders.

According to the study, how much a teen smokes seems to makes a difference. Says Dr. Johnson, "Our findings suggest that risk for onset of certain types of anxiety disorders during early adulthood tends to increase as the quantity and frequency of cigarette smoking during adolescence increases." However, because most teens who smoke heavily continue to do so as adults, it is not yet certain whether smoking cessation can completely reverse the trend toward developing certain anxiety disorders in young adulthood.
-end-
The study was supported by National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Columbia University Medical Center

Related Smoking Articles from Brightsurf:

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady
While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly.

What is your risk from smoking? Your network knows!
A new study from researchers at Penn's Annenberg School for Communication found that most people, smokers and non-smokers alike, were nowhere near accurate in their answers to questions about smoking's health effects.

Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.

Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.

Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.

Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.

A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.

Read More: Smoking News and Smoking Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.