April 14th, 2010
12:42 PM ET

CDC: Adults with depression more likely to smoke

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/produce

Adults with depression are more likely to be cigarette smokers than those without depression, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics that reinforces previous findings. (watch video)

More than half of men with depression ages 40-54 were current smokers compared with 26 percent of the men who did not have depression.  For women in the same age category, 43 percent who had depression smoked, compared with 22 percent without depression.

More than half of smokers with depression reported having their first cigarette of the day within five minutes of waking. They were also more likely to smoke over a pack a day. These are indicators of heavy smoking.  These findings were based on interviews and examination samples of approximately 5,000 people of all ages from 2005 to 2006.

Previous studies have shown that smoking is more prevalent in people who have depression.  One possible factor is that people use smoking to cope with depression.

MayoClinic.com: Quit smoking: Proven strategies to help you quit

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soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Gorette Bettencourt

    Not true i've been fiting depresson for over 11 years! I don't smoke or drink!!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Adam

    Someone above said it's not a sin to be unhealthy (Chessnutz, maybe). It is a sin if I have to pay for it (more nationalized health care comes to mind). If you smoke and then get sick, it's a sin if someone else has to pay for it. Maybe they should make nicotine pills to help to calm people w/ depression and anxiety?

    April 14, 2010 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply

    It is so easy for this guy to say something EVERYBODY knows. Depression does not make you want to smoke. I know people who are depressed and use other means. I bet most of these people who are depressed and smoke, started smoking when they were young. Goes to show you that understanding depression is not as easy as this people make's it out to be.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Christine

    It has been widely know for years that nicotine has an anti-depressant quality. Ever notice the group of people sitting outside a "home" for adults with these kinds of challenges chain smoking? This is not coincidental.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. kayakjim

    While not a doctor I am a coach.
    I have been fortunate to have seen and helped several people quit smoking. Of these only one showed signs of being a little down.

    Exercise and diet can make or break someone trying to quit. Instead of dwelling on what you are missing in life you have to focus on what you are enjoying!

    And for those pro-smoking in the crowd, that it is a personal choice...I'll bet you litter all over the place with your butts.
    It does affect others all around, not just the second hand smoke. It is sickening to see how many butts are along a waters edge or along the street sides.

    All this on top of the increase in the rest of our health coverage costs; thanks to your unhealthy lifestyle the rest of us have to pay higher premiums.
    That can depress the rest of us!

    April 14, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Katie

    James, not everyone who is depressed needs therapy. There isn't always some underlying "thing" that needs to be dealt with. I have suffered from depression from my teen years. I'm 30 years old now. I had a wonderful childhood. A great family, and we're all still very close to this day. I'm marrying a completely wonderful man in September. I have a job that I really love. I am a homeowner. I have great friends. Active life. But, I'm depressed. In my case, heredity caught up with me. I manage my depression with medication and as long as I take that medication, I'm okay. But I am a smoker. I have tried numerous times to quit using everything under the sun including a couple of tries with good old fashioned will-power. I'm still smoking. I'm not done trying to quit – not by a long shot. I know if I keep at it, I will be successful.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Brian Peppers

    Let's be clear here, just because there is a higher percentage of depressed people who smoke than non-depressed people, doesn't mean that depression causes smoking or that smoking causes depression. Perhaps there are common reasons for each, for example if you're poor you may be less educated and thus more likely to smoke, and you also might be more depressed because you are poor. So in this hypothetical example: being poor = more likely smoker, being poor = more likely depressed. But "smoker" does not equal "depression".

    "that people use smoking to cope with depression" sounds like guesswork and assumptions, and probably shouldn't be in this article.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cardiff sampson

    New Study

    Pancakes make people happy

    April 14, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LEE

    Tomorrow it will be seven weeks quit for me and I am hating it. I really miss smoking and that depresses me. I hope that I don't go back to it because it has gotten so darned expensive, but I do miss it.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JJDLS

    Another amazing discovery....D'oh I quit smoking in July '07 and within a month I had a nearly successful suicide attempt now I know why...

    April 14, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Dan

    It's funny that this research is done. The reason that anti depressants work is that it nicotine replaces an enzyme in the brain. this enzyme controls the depression in people. Those that smoke and hang on to it is because those that are depressed are getting that enzyme filled. which back to the reason anti depressant meds work. This was research that came out a few years ago and should be looked at more then forcing people to quit by posting bad pictures or ridiculing them for it. Maybe a real fix for the smoking issue if finding a solution to the other.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. MadMax

    Seems funny how smokers always become the whipping boy of the health community. In case anyone missed it. There is a trash pile the size of Texas created by the whiteman. floating around in the Pacific ocean. Now they have found another trash pile created by the whiteman floating around in the Atlantic ocean. I think I'm going to set back and light a smoke and see what happens when the oceans of the earth chemical composition changes. Then I'm going to drive my car down to the ocean and let you breath my second hand car smoke to see if anyone has figured out how to blame the ill's of society and the great pacific garbage patch on the cigarette smokers. Maybe you can raise the cigarette tax again to help clean that up. Please eat more salt. Your not getting enough in your daily food diet.

    PS. I'm paying you people enough cigarette tax now so I can die early. You would think people would be satisfied with that fact. I guess not.

    April 14, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. grace

    Uh........He caught us-cheating.
    Yeah I'd say people in THAT age brackett has alot to cope with.
    Like, I dont know, DEATH OF LOVE ONES.
    Life not like it was. So ya make a new life & ya puff here & there.
    And soon the NICOTINE TAKES OVER & it doesnt matter if your undepressed-Everytime you try to stop, you now have PHYSICAL WITHDRAWELS.

    April 14, 2010 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Harvey Wallbanger

    It's easy to quit smoking, I have done it hundreds of times

    April 14, 2010 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Misterbeets

    Notice that this is strictly speaking a chicken or the egg study. Does depression cause smoking or is it the other way around?

    April 14, 2010 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Don

    As a reformed smoker (nearly 40 years clean), I can tell you why people with depression are more likely to smoke. It is a way to punish yourself and slowly commit suicide due to low self-esteem. Once you decide to tranform your life positively, you solve two problems at once. No more smoking, and a good chance to seize the depression bull by the horns.

    April 14, 2010 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Omar

    Here's something many non-smokers might not have considered: people smoke because feels good. Yeah, smoking feels good! Try it.

    April 14, 2010 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Debra Smith

    Smoked for 33 years, was hospitalized for 4 days with acute bronchitis. Doctors told me if I did not quit, I would be on oxygen by the time I was 50 years old. I have not had a cigarette for 18 days with the help of Chantix. Needless to say, it has been a godsend and very few side effects. Absolutely no urge whatsoever

    April 14, 2010 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Erik, Flint, MI

    I started smoking because I was bored. Ironically I was depressed because I was bored. I have also met most of my best friends on smoke breaks, which is a pretty good anti-depressant as well.

    Smoking is the perfect break, yes I know it is bad for my health but it makes me feel better. Thats why I stopped smoking and started dipping. But then I realized I like my teeth and started smoking again.

    Perhaps I am depressed, but I'd rather be a dirty smoker than some pill-popping nutjob.

    April 14, 2010 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Cynical Randy

    I quit smoking a year ago almost to the day. What angers me the most is still the sanctimonious attitudes and the subtle media control, even in film and television.

    Notice how only the Bad Guy smokes these days?

    I'm also disgruntled by the fact that in this land of liberty and pursuit of happiness, it's next to impossible to attain because of some of the inane attitudes I've heard posted here.

    You can smoke, but the gov't will just make it obscenely difficult for you to.

    April 14, 2010 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Fausto

    I've always considered the modern smoker to be engaging in self-destructive behavior as a manifestation of the unconscious trying to destroy the self. I'd like to see a study that explored smoking subjects for early childhood trauma or other experiences that activate the mind's self destruct mechanism. It wouldn't surprise me if you told a bunch of teenagers that eating popcorn would kill them, that you'd find a number of them gobbling up popcorn like it was going out of style. I feel for smokers and the suffering they go through.

    April 14, 2010 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Richard Hode

    I smoke, and have done so happily for 51 years now. Get it through your skulls, folks: YOU WILL DIE sooner or later, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. I swear, you people seem to think that if you stop smoking, you'll live forever. What's a few years more or less, especially off the end years? You people cling to every minute like a merchant clings to his profits. The Epicureans had the best philosophy: eat, drink (and smoke) and be merry, for tomorrow YOU SHALL DIE. Have a good day.

    April 14, 2010 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. zep

    As a researcher working specifically on the subject, I can tell you this relationship has been known (with LOTS of clinical/molecular/pre-clinical data) for at least 10 years..... Self-medication and/or withdrawal-induced depression. Where is it NEWS?!!

    April 14, 2010 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. ben schwoe

    The article should read..."abusers of the drug nicotine are more likely to be depressed than the non user." Cigarette is a code for "nicotine delivery device" as a needle is a heroin delivery device. Legalized drugs like alcohol and nicotine are regulated by the government in the same way prescriptions drugs are (in a big picture kind of way) should the government regulate more heavily? perhaps... Taxes on these legal drugs are fairly high and help to pay for schools, roads, etc. Punish the depraved and depressed with more taxes to run our government...just a little altered PoV for the discussion.

    April 14, 2010 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Dee

    Franky C, it must be so nice to have achieved perfection. It is wonderful that you have graced us with your God perfection. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Tell us what might be your fault, and what costs the government might need to clean up after you?

    April 14, 2010 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. M S T

    I truly am thankful to this study. I am a 20 year old college student who has been under a lot of stress in the past couple of weeks and have had to be extremely careful not to lapse into a depression (which runs in my family). I occasionally have smoked a cig or two on the weekends but will never smoke a full cigarette again due to the danger I am under of becoming addicted to such an unhealthy habit, according to this study. I smoke weed most nights as a way of releasing stress and it is a relatively healthy and nonaddictive way to let off steam and relax (haters, please do not start. I can and have stopped with no problems multiple times).

    Anyway, my point is that by putting this study out there, you will inspire those of us who struggle with extreme stress to stay away from this unhealthy habit.

    April 14, 2010 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Daisy

    I smoked steadily from about 15 to 21, then when I drank for the next five years. The whole time I smoked I was depressed, often suicidal and I drank a lot. I hated myself and smoking felt self-destructive, like cutting or drinking way too much. I felt attracted to the part about damaging my body. And you could do it in front of people, so it was an appealing type of harm. There are probable multiple reasons for the strong relationship between the smoking and depression.

    April 14, 2010 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mark

    I have depression and smoked a pack a day for years. Depression started when I was very young. The smoking started later on in highschool. I've known for a long time that smoking and depressions were linked. I finally was able to quit recently and it is extremely emotional.
    I would also like to mention that the only reason I was able to quit is because I came in to some money. Let me explain. When you tax the hell out of cigarrettes you make them more valuable. I know people who have kids that will never be going to college because their parents are addictied to smoking. But quitting is EXTREMELY hard and the chance of quitting cold turkey are very slim. When a pack of smokes costs $10 (here in Canada anyway) you sure as hell aren't going to throw the rest of the pack out after you give in and have one. So you keep it and end up smoking the whole thing and voila you're back to where you started.
    As soon as I started making decent money quit, and whenever I slipped up and bought a pack I smoked a couple and then through the damn thing out. Now I am 100% smoke free!
    As for all the non smokers who have jumped on the hate bandwagon so the government could successfully gouge the smoking public. GO TO HELL! You're going to get cancer too some day. The only difference is that you'll die with pink lungs.

    April 14, 2010 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. john

    you think certain companies would cater to the 13% of people that
    smoke instead of treating them like non humans

    April 14, 2010 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Al

    I know how you feel, Lee. I'm at 2.5 weeks without a cigarettte (former 2-3 pack a day smoker) and I certainly do miss it, though the quitting process seems to be getting a little easier. At least I'm at the point where I don't sound like Darth Vader when I breathe. 🙂

    April 14, 2010 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. M C Crockett

    If people that are depressed are more likely to smoke, does it follow that people that smoke are more likely to be depressed?

    To paraphrase George W H Bush, this sounds like "voodoo" science. It doesn't seem to be more than an interesting observation.

    When someone tells me that they are depressed, I haven't a clue what they are telling me. I have a vague notion that they are having problems keeping focused on their job unless they are standing in a trench.

    I presume from this article that medical practitioners use the word, depression, far differently from an economist, geologist, surveyor, or quality engineer.

    From a medical perspective, what is depression? What is its significance? Why should I care? Does an individual diagnosed with depression present a threat to me or others?

    I smoke cigarettes. Also, I subscribe to the philosophy of Mad Magazine's Alfred E Newman: "What? Me worry?"

    April 14, 2010 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Ernie

    I agree with this based on my own experiences. From my own experiences, I believe smoking causes depression and certainly magifies it for those with mild clinical depression. I have smoked and quit several times in my life and depression slowly takes over. I quit, feel good, but the addiction is lifelong and will eventually take over.
    I've had conversations with other friends and they have similar opinions and experiences. Almost, if not everyone I've talked to in depth on this agrees the smoking addiction is absolutely to most difficult to kick and the longest lasting.
    If we are going to outlaw drugs, we need to look at tobacco and alcohol. Probably the worst two drugs behind meth.

    April 14, 2010 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Pat

    I also wonder if anyone has studied whether adults with depression are more likely to have been exposed to secondhand smoke (than adults without depression), because when they were children, one or both parents of adults with depression smoked.

    April 15, 2010 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. john

    I have to question the validity of some of the studies related to smoking and, whatever. I'm a reformed smoker so this is not a active smoker wanting their cigarette. As I said I have to question this study. What was put into place to monitor the accuracy? I mean what's to say that people who suffer from depression eat more pickles? Working in the healthcare field, I can attest that many people with mental illness smoke and there have been other studies that suggest this, but what are the measures used for this study?

    April 15, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. modestgrl

    I quit smoking 7 weeks ago. It's been wonderful & incredibly easy! If anyone out there is serious about quitting I would highly recommend reading "The Easyway to Quit Smoking" by Allen Carr. Or visit the website for more information: http://www.allencarr.com. Many celebrities including Ellen Degeneres, Anthony Hopkins, Angelica Huston etc. have used his method. It truly works & makes quitting so easy.
    I still suffer from depression, but it has nothing to do with smoking or not smoking. It was just an excuse for me to keep smoking.

    April 15, 2010 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Andrew Lark

    These are that studies our government is spending money on????? Thanks for nothing! Big surprise that people who are depressed would try to find a way to cope. Maybe instead we should be spending money on programs designed to help people who are depressed thru counseling or on developing a new drug that can be used (safely) in treating depression. Most of the anti-depressants out there now have an extensive list of possible side-effects including "increased thoughts of suicide". For some reason I think that might be a problem for someone who is already depressed. I am sympathetic towards people who suffer from depression, but ultimately depression is just a state of mind. People choose how they let events in their live effect their state of mind. People who aren't depressed are better at coping with the problems that come up in their lives. We should study these people and find out what effective and safe coping mechanisms they use to keep from becoming depressed. That kind of information would be a lot more helpful and informative.

    April 20, 2010 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. shawn

    umm, depressed (in therapy, on meds), smoker. Thank you.

    June 20, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
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