Smoking and depression

Do smokers crave nicotine to self-medicate their depression? The question has prompted much discussion since a study concluded that smokers are more depressed than nonsmokers, “We thought understanding the smoker’s mind would help us end tobacco use,” said Gerald Markle, an author and sociology professor at Western Michigan University. “But, in some respects, we’ve raised as many new questions as we’ve answered.”

In addition to being nearly five times as likely to suffer from major depression as nonsmokers, smokers also have been found to be more apt to have anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorders, or alcohol and other drug addiction problems. Smokers also are seen as more neurotic, greater risk-takers, and having poor impulse control.

Such research has led some employers and even the military to begin viewing smokers as possible problem cases. But others say the findings should be seen as reinforcing the need for treatment. “Smokers are socially isolated and so less likely to search out help,” says David Gilbert, a nicotine researcher at Southern Illinois University. “But these studies suggest that better treatments are out there.”

Treatment could involve using nicotine to treat depression, researchers said.
Source: the Los Angeles Times reported April 26.2006

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