High smoking dependence linked to depression, study finds

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In a new study, researchers found new information on the connection between symptoms of depression and smoking dependence.

The results support the importance of understanding the reasons behind smoking dependence to be able to help depressed smokers to quit, and thus possibly relieve depression symptoms.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Helsinki.

It has been widely reported that smoking is more common among people suffering from depression than in the population in general. The actual mechanism of this association, however, remains unclear.

So far, studies about the association between smoking dependence and depression are very rare.

In the study, the team focused on the different self-reported motivation factors for smoking.

The work was carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Wisconsin and Missouri U.S., where the questionnaire was initially developed.

The study was based on more than 1400 Finnish twins who were smokers and provided smoking and depression information by responding to questionnaires.

The team found that smokers who were more dependent were also more likely to be depressed.

Of the different motives for smoking examined, the motives related to high levels of craving and automatic smoking behavior, as well as smoking to regulate emotional states were found to be the most strongly related to depression.

The results suggest that depressed persons are not smoking because of taste or taste-reward related to smoking. Rather, depression seems to be related to primary dependence motives and the regulation of mood.

According to the team, it is important to understand the individual underlying reasons that maintain smoking dependence, so that tailored and multidisciplinary smoking cessation support can be provided.

The study is published in Addiction. One author of the study is Senior Researcher Maarit Piirtola.

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