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. Chas

    I sure hope the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics" didn't spend a lot of taxpayer dollars on this one.
    Let's try studying something other than the obvious.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. kingtrick

    In other news; depressed people more likely to drink, eat fast food and do nothing all day. Also known to have WoW and netflix subscriptions.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    Well another expensive study to report for captain obvious. It has been known for over a century that Nicotine is a very good anti depressant.
    Yet we also now know that the majority of smokers are poor as well, so what do we do as the great do gooders that we are here in America, we add large amounts of taxes onto Cigarettes.
    Please this is America we need to stop taxing and outlawing based on some narrow view of what is right. Being unhealthy is NOT a sin. People can be perfectly normal and good people even if they are fat, smoke or have same sex relationships, all of these things are protected in our Constitution if this government ever remembers the Constitution again.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Matt in Va

    I can relate to this article.
    You may want to study why the smoking helps depression.
    I was a very depressed teenager, I started smoking at 16, and my depression went away.
    Everytime I try to quit, I get depressed again.
    I am now 44 and smoke a pack and a half daily...

    April 14, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ken

    I always find it funny when researchers report the blatantly obvious as a "finding." Tell me something that I didn't know I didn't know and you might have something.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. don, Dayton OH

    I would think this would be fairly understood by the medical community. Those who suffer from depression are less likely to focus on long term goals and other projects that benefit themselves or their health.

    The problem is that if you start when you're young and depressed, it's still difficult to quit as you get older and may overcome your depression because the addiction and behavior are already rooted.

    Maybe that's why some anti-depressants can also work to help curb smoking. It would be nice to see more research and treatments that target BOTH smoking and depression. Nicotine replacement therapy doesn't really deal with the addictive behavior and Chantix has way too many problems for the average person to see it as the silver bullet.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. LL

    Interesting article, but I suppose the real question is, do they smoke due to depression, or does smoking cause the depression?

    April 14, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sean T

    I know for myself and many people I know, smoking also engages with depression in a cycle of guilt and self-deprecation... almost a form of self mutilation. Depression and addiction feed each other and makes life pretty difficult.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. An American Pawn

    Hold on? Wait there just one second-depressed people are more likely to smoke cigarettes?
    And coming in next weeks study, healthy people breathe oxygen more then dead people.
    Cigarettes: population control, but of the free will.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kam

    I quit smoking Oct 7, 2009 and I believe I became quite depressed when I quit. I think that when you quit, something also happens within your brain that can make you become depressed.

    April 14, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. james

    I have battled with depression and for the most part overcome the worst of it. Smoking OMG that is a BIG mistake. It is as damaging as alcohol, drugs or any other addiction. There is only one way to overcome depression. therapy. you have to deal with the things in your life that are making you miserable. you have to face yourself. sooner or later you have to quit trying to escape what is bothering you and deal with it. take control of your life.

    Good luck.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Lola

    Um, DUH.

    How about the other way around? What percentage of smokers are depressed?

    April 14, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jaxitty

    I dunno who they tapped for this research? but i've been smoking a little less than 20 years. i didn't start because of depression, I started because of peer pressure. And quitting, has been likened to; be harder to do than quitting heroin,

    April 14, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. eman

    How much money did they have to spend to find a connection between depression, and smoking?

    I could have told them that for half the price.

    Here's a couple of free ones. There is a connection between Stress and smoking, There is a connection between stress and depression.

    You can also replace "smoking" with "drinking".

    Now go research something that isn't common knowledge.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Matt

    It's a comfort thing, many people bite their fingernails for the same reason but it's more socially accepted to smoke. Many of my friends have a cigarette craving at the exact same time I crave a piece of gum. It's basically used to distract your mind from whatever you're doing.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Having Tea Tomorrow

    Wow, now I understand why all my progressive libbie friends smoke. So sad, they really never do smile very much! I guess it pays to be responsible and self-sufficient, net depending on "someone" else to take care of oneself!

    April 14, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. jmd

    Totally agree with this. I smoke on and off and every time I get little down I bum a smoke. When I am feeling great I don't want to put it my body. My smoking habit ebbs and flows with my mood unfortunately.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. randy

    I don't want to be crass, but I guess I have to be. What, exactly, is the point of this? I believe other studies have shown that drug abuse (in general) is linked to depression and other mental disorders. Why the heck do we need a specific study telling us nicotine is linked too?

    April 14, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. No Tea - Just Coffee

    The poster above, Having Tea Tomorrow, has such a warm human response to the problems of others. Its depressing to know there are such people in the world – maybe I'll start smoking.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. John

    That’s it I am depressed that is why I smoke. Now maybe Obamacare will give me some of you peoples hard earned money so I can't work on quitting for the next 20 yrs or so.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. california grandma

    on april 25th i'll have 120 days tobacco free. doesn't mean i don;t think about it, i just tell myself "smoking isn't an option" – having had pneumonia recently was a big motivator...also that i swim a mile a day and do cardio and weights. i'd leave the gym and light up.
    i smoked for 9 years...and it did start right after a very depressing incident...which made it hard to quit since i wired my brain to 'reward' myself when depresing things happened.
    you CAN rewire your brain to respond differently...you just have to be determined. the first 3 days are the worst, after that, your body looses the craving, and it becomes a mind thing. it's not easy, but it's worth giving up smoking tobacco.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Can't believe it

    What a WASTE of money! Who is paying for these useless studies? Why are we studying common sense? Who is being helped with this study? Smoking is an outlet, depression needs an outlet, therefore someone who is depressed may smoke... Is this to up the premiums on health insurance for depressed people because they are more prone to smoke therefore can be considered high risk? The money that goes into studies like these can be better used elsewhere. How about more research into cures for cancer, AIDS, the common cold...

    April 14, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Karen

    Hello! Was a study really necessary to tell us that smoking is related to depression. You'd have to be depressed to do something that damaging to your health. It's almost the same as self mutilation.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mike

    Having Tea Tomorrow- You are a genuis! You make so much sense.
    I'm going to join be a hardcore conservative so I can not smoke.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mike

    Having Tea Tomorrow- and I guess that "someone" that takes care of the libs like your friends is you. Well, gee your so nice to do that. Your a real American hero.

    April 14, 2010 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Nadia

    Hmm, that headline is an incomplete sentence....

    April 14, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Betsy

    DUH??? Who else would purposely hurt themselves?

    April 14, 2010 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Jessica

    Next they are going to tell us that Obese people are more likely to eat more than non-obese people.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Teabagging a Tea Party Idiots

    Um, yeah. Smoking is either liberal or Dem–how come the rest of us aren't as medically savvy as you? I'll bet you're also one of those experts who thinks marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

    Now get back to your coloring book and slobber whenever Palin opens her hole. I'll give you a cookie if you can color inside the lines.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Having Coffee Tomorrow

    Wow, now I understand why all my neo-con Tea Party friends smoke. So sad, to be so stupid. I guess it pays not to be a God loving fear monger that has the IQ of a baseball.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. JR Jake

    Dr. Gupta I love to read your articles, but there is also a fact that depressed people also drink more, have more aberrant lifestyles, get counseling more, take more medications, get in more fights, higher divorce rates and so many other things.

    Agreed smoking is the greatest malady, calamity and scourge mankind has ever experienced when it comes to self abuse administrated by others and administered by us. I say change the smoking laws, charge $10 a pack, stop producing it....and anything else you want to do with it. Than that depressed person will just find something else to allay their pain. Thanks Doc, always a pleasure to read and participate.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. jason

    Did someone get paid to do this "study"? This just in from the same geniuses who conducted the smoking research: Getting hit by lightning sucks and could cause you harm!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. modestgrl

    I am a former smoker who has suffered from depression the majority of my life. Smoking doesn't help depression in any way. In fact, in hind sight I believe it made my depression worse. I always felt like a slave to a pointless drug, but now that I'm free of it I feel much more in control of my life. I'm still depressed, but at least I don't have an addiction to add to my problems.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. really?

    chessnutz – majority of smokers are poor? i didnt know that. i smoke, more than i should and i recognize that quitting would do me a ton of good, but im not poor. in fact none of my friends that smoke are poor. must just be the majority of new yorkers that smoke are poor.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Kukla

    So THAT'S WHY I can't give up smoking. I knew I was depressed but this, too, on top of the chocolate? help!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. H.R. Puffnstuf

    When I get depressed, I smoke. I'll save the CDC the extra $5 million for another study and tell you why: It makes me feel better. It's the nicotine. And when you feel down, you want to feel better. There, I just told you for less than a penny. (ha) Just saved the government a lot of taxpayer money. I feel better already!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Farbot

    I totally agree with Kingtrick! I quit smoking but I agree and my Husband .. well he is a WoW player and a netflix junky lol
    I also agree with the others that say it could be a good thing for depressed people instead of pumping them up with PILLS give them nicotine either will kill us all in the end why not be HAPPY doing it!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Karen

    Smoking causes depression. You cannot be inhaling as many toxic chemicals as are contained in cigarettes without them affecting the health of your brain (and most other organs).

    April 14, 2010 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Matt

    Try determing why depressed people smoke and abuse drugs...that is an effective and worthwhile study.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Ghostality

    I know from my own experience of being jobless for an extended period of time has contributed to me smoking more. I use to say it was because I had more opportunity to smoke. But I can certainly attest to the fact feeling low does in fact cause one to smoke more. I have not been diagnosed with depression. The only reason for this is the fact I can't afford the visit to the doctor to find out. What is worse is how the government is taxing the heck out of cigarettes while pocketing the money at the expense of smokers. If you aren't depressed with losing your job, you will be with the cost of the bloody things. Shame on those who have raised taxes on cigarettes for profit. You can call it an effort to persuade people not to smoke. Yet, the govt. profits from it. It is absurd.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Lori

    I quit smoking 18 months ago and it was incredibly difficult. I started because I was totally stressed out and it helped relieve those feelings. I then got depressed because I knew it was stupid ! And then it became so difficult to quit and I felt even more like a failure because I had no self control. It is just a dangerous, self defeating coping mechanism. I got really sick with a cold and could not breathe. It scared me so bad I quit and have never touched another one! I can't tell you how much better I feel knowing I am not hurting myself anymore. My brother committed suicide and I consider smoking a slow suicide. Good luck to all of you out there trying to quit. The "pain" of quitting is worth pleasure of being smoke free!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Franky C

    Chessnutz of Liverpool – your comments are so completely ignorant its startling. People who are fat, smoke, and unhealthy are major contributors to the huge increases in medical costs and premium hikes. In other words, if you are unhealthy you are burdening the rest of us. Get a clue!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. sec

    MAYBE if this leads the medical profession to finally 'get' that some of us have a true physical need for the nicotine–because when we do go off of it, no matter how gradually stepped down, our entire bodies (not just our minds) go into a depression, that only gets worse the longer we're off of it–then MAYBE this story is worth reporting/reading.
    But I have to agree with the majority of respondents, this is blatantly obvious to those of us who do smoke, what took the medical profession so long to figure out that we weren't just whining?

    April 14, 2010 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Steve

    I am an ex-smoker. 3 years August 29th of this year. Smoked at least a pack a day for 50 years. Tried everything to quit: hypnosis, patch, pills, willpower, you name it. Finally, used Chantix (1 pill a day for 6 months). No urges to smoke. I'm the guy everybody would say "if this guy can quit, anybody can". If you're waiting till you want to quit, it'll never happen. You wake up one day and decide you want to quit MORE than you want to smoke. Then, you have a chance. It's a lifelong commitment. God...is it ever worth it, though. More than the feeling good part, etc. is the personal satisfaction of waking up every day for the rest of my life as a NON-SMOKER! By the way, I've also committed to losing weight. Have lost 1 pound a week since last October 10th. Net loss to date...25 pounds. About 6 to go. No magic diet. Just counting calories and commiting to staying under 1800 per day. Eat whatever I want but limit amount. Funny, the healthy stuff is generally less calories.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Steve

    I think part of the depression is knowing you're doing something to your body and to those around you when you smoke. You're depressed because you want to quit but you haven't. I quit 3 years ago after smoking for 50 years. Believe me...I ain't depressed about that!! I wake up every day excited that I finally found the commitment to quit and stick with it!! Just gotta want to quit more than you want to smoke!!

    April 14, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. DirtyBob

    As I've said many times, there is no better business than doing studies. My favorite to date is the one where they found out Americans don't like to exercise. If only I could of been on that team. A lot of money for doing nothing.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Jeff

    Is smoking the cause of depression or is depression the cause of smoking?

    April 14, 2010 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. brainfart

    soon to be followed-up by study that looks at if hitting head with hammer causes brain damage...doh

    April 14, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Adam

    I don't think depressed people are more likely to smoke. There are neurochemicals directly affected by smoking. Individuals who smoke for extended periods of time are more likely to create a permanent shift in the way their brains produce various types of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, etc. Of course, this affects mood. My argument is that smoking may be a contributing factor to depression, just like it is to other physiological ailments such as cancer, heart disease, etc. Everyone I know who has smoked for a long period of time experienced depression/anxiety in some way, shape, or form upon quitting. Most get better after a few months to a year once their brains retrain themselves to produce sufficient quantities of mood-enhancing chemicals.

    April 14, 2010 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. jbronner

    big shocker there. i think i'd rather stick with the cigarettes than most of the other alternatives. the depression can be bad at times but most of the alternatives are unacceptable at this point. i've heard nothing but horror stories from friends who've quit by using Chantix. for me smoking relieves stress and anxiety and makes it less likely for me to go off on someone who desperately deserves it.

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