Cigarette smoking may damage mental health, increase depression

For decades, doctors have warned about the health risks of smoking.

However, their warnings focused on the physical risks that cigarettes pose to health, such as lung cancer, heart disease, low birth weight, and high blood pressure, among others.

In a new study, researchers found that cigarette smoking could damage people’s mental health, too.

The research was conducted by a team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere.

The team surveyed more than 2,000 students enrolled at Serbian universities with differing socio-political and economic environments.

They found that students who smoked had rates of clinical depression that were two to three times higher than did their non-smoking peers.

Specifically, at the University of Pristina, 14% of smokers suffered from depression as opposed to 4% of their non-smoking peers, and at Belgrade University, the numbers were 19% to 11%, respectively.

Further, no matter their economic or socio-political backgrounds, students who smoked also had higher rates of depressive symptoms and lower mental health scores (such as vitality and social functioning) than did non-smoking students.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence that smoking and depression are closely linked.

The team hopes to see policymakers take into account smoking’s mental health effects.

Combined with policies that prevent, screen and treat mental health problems, including addiction, steps for stopping smoking would go a long way towards combating the harmful effects that smoking has on our physical and mental states.

The lead author of the study is Professor Hagai Levine.

The study is published in PLOS ONE.

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