Depression and smoking are often linked

If you suffer from depression, odds are good that you have also smoked at some point in your life. Unfortunately, those with depression also seem to have a much harder time kicking the habit than smokers who are not depressed.

It has long been known there is some relationship between depression and smoking however a US survey has now shown the two are more closely linked than we knew.

The survey conducted by the US Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics showed a strong relationship between smoking and depression. In a national health and nutrition survey called 'Depression and Smoking in the US Household Population Aged 20 and Over 2005-2008', smoking rates were significantly elevated in every age and gender group.

For example, 49 percent of depressed men aged 20-39 smoked compared with 34 percent of non-depressed men in that age range. Among women in that age category, 50 percent of those with depression smoked compared with only 21 percent of those without depression.

More than 60 percent of adults with depression had smoked at some point in life whereas in those without depression only 43 percent of those aged 20-39 had ever smoked and 53 percent of those aged 55 and over.

Heavy smoking is also more common among depressed adults with 28 percent smoking more than a pack a day, almost twice the rate of adult smokers without depression.

Not only are depressed people more likely to smoke and more likely to smoke a lot, but they also seem to have a harder time quitting. In the 20-39 age group of depressed people who had ever smoked, 17 percent had quit compared to 36 percent of non-depressed people in the same age group. Among adults over age 55 who had ever smoked, 57 percent of those with depression had quit smoking compared with 75 percent of those without depression.

This indicates that individuals with depression who also smoke are likely to need a lot of help quitting.

If you are a smoker and also experience depression, don't be afraid to ask your doctor for help. You will probably have an easier time butting out if you adequately treat your depression and also work on a smoking cessation program with encouragement from someone you trust.

The use of bupropion/Wellbutin/Zyban makes sense in this situation. This medication is both an effective antidepressant and an effective smoking cessation agent. In BC, this medication is covered by Pharmacare only if it is prescribed for depression. This requires a Special Authority form to be completed by the prescribing doctor. If it is prescribed for smoking cessation alone it is not covered.


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