According to a recent sub-study, part of long-term Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) study based at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, University of Toronto and the University of Montreal, professionals discovered that smoking can increase depressive symptoms in teens.

Michael Chaiton, the study’s primary author states the following:

This observational study is one of the few to examine the perceived emotional benefits of smoking among adolescents. Although cigarettes may appear to have self-medicating effects or to improve mood, in the long term we found teens who started to smoke reported higher depressive symptoms.

Chaiton is a research associate at the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto.

High school teenagers numbering 662, completed up to 20 related to their tobacco consumption and mood affects. The participants spanned a wide gamut of social and economic parameters: French and English participants, urban and rural schools, schools located in high, moderate and low socioeconomic neighborhoods.

Three groups of students were formed for the study’s purposes. First, non-smokers and second, smokers who did not use cigarettes to self-medicate or improve their mood or physical state. A final group consisted of smokers who self-medicated by smoking. Teens were asked how smoking made them feel. Were they too tired to do things? Difficulty sleeping? Unhappy, sad, or depressed? Hopeless about the future? Nervous or tense?

Jennifer O’Loughlin, a professor at the University of Montreal Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, and scientist at the of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre concluded:

Smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers had higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked. Our study found that adolescent smokers who reported emotional benefits from smoking are at higher risk of developing depressive symptoms.

Dr. Chaiton adds:

It’s important to emphasize that depressive symptom scores were higher among teenagers who reported emotional benefits from smoking after they began to smoke.

“Use of cigarettes to improve affect and depressive symptoms in a longitudinal study of adolescents”
Michael Chaiton, Joanna Cohena, Jennifer O’Loughlinb and Juergen Rehm
Addictive Behaviors doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.07.002

Written by Sy Kraft