Depressive symptoms no bar to quitting smoking

November 14, 1999

New research findings show better than expected prospects for persons who want to quit or cut down smoking but believe their history of depression will hinder or prevent them.

The study conducted by researchers from Brown University School of Medicine and Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, counters earlier research indicating that individuals with a history of depression encounter greater difficulties in quitting or cutting down smoking than people who do not have a history of depression.

The study, however, did show a documented increase in depressive symptoms approximately a month after an attempt to quit smoking. The results of the study appear in the November issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

"Although symptoms of depression don't influence success in quitting smoking in the short run, they may predict greater risk of later relapse after the people quit," said Raymond Niaura, Ph.D., head of the study.

Of the 133 smokers in the study, 41 had a history of depression. "Overall, the participants were representative of the broad population of Americans who try to quit with little outside help," said Niaura.

The smokers in the current project 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. Then, on the quit day and at two, seven, 14 and 28 days after, their symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, depression and quit rates were measured.

Only 15 participants achieved complete continuous abstinence over the entire 30-day follow-up period. But on average, participants reduced their smoking rate by about 80 percent, compared with their smoking rates at the start of the study.

The research was supported by the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research is the official peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. For information about the journal, contact Gary E. Swan, Ph.D., at 650-859-5322.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

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