Study examines the association between tobacco smoking and depression in young adults

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Cigarette smoking, known for the significant risks it poses to our physical health, could also have a major impact on mental health, particularly raising the risk of clinical depression, especially among young adults.

Published in the journal PLOS One, a study initiated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem led researchers to the recruitment of 2,138 students from two academic institutions: the University of Belgrade and the University of Kosovska Mitrovica, to examine any correlation between cigarette smoking and subsequent depression.

According to the study, the participants originated from varying socioeconomic statuses and cultural backgrounds in the Republic of Siberia. Surveys were administered, including questions on demographic information and lifestyle choices. The consumption of at least one cigarette a day, or 100 throughout a lifetime, was recognized as smoking under a lifestyle choice.

For the assessment of affective symptoms, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was used to evaluate the severity of depressive traits among students.

From the findings: “Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was administered to evaluate the level of students’ depressive symptoms. The BDI consists of 21 items, each scored on a scale of 0–3. The total BDI score ranges from 0 to 63 and represents the sum of grades for each item per unit. Cut-off ranges are as follows: 0–13 = no or minimal depression; 14–19 = mild depression; 20–28 = moderate depression; 29–63 = severe depression.”

Based on their comprehensive examination of the questionnaires, researchers determined smokers were as much as three times more likely to have higher rates of clinical depression compared to non-smokers. In the findings, 14% of smokers at one university exhibited depressive symptoms, in contrast to 4% of non-smokers. The rates were higher among smokers in the other university associated with the study.

“In this research we observed a strong association between smoking and poorer physical and mental health components of the health-related quality of life that persisted after adjusting for participants’ socio-demographic, behavioral and health factors,” researchers stated.

“These findings suggest that combining the efforts of mental health service and substance abuse specialists could be relevant to enhance the promotion of healthy behavioral patterns and reduce the impact of depression on overall health.”

“Findings highlight the need for further research on the interaction between smoking, mental health and quality of life, with implications for prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” researchers concluded.