Smoking Cessation Study Burns Some Myths

December 10, 2010

Contrary to the popular belief that quitting increases anxiety, a recent study reports that stopping smoking can lift depression, decrease anxiety, and give quitters a sense of accomplishment during the period of abstinence.

Contrary to the popular belief that quitting increases anxiety, a recent study reports that stopping smoking can lift depression, decrease anxiety, and give quitters a sense of accomplishment during the period of abstinence. Lead investigator Christopher Kahler and colleagues found a strong correlation between duration of abstinence and happiness in their study of 236 smokers who wanted to quit. Only 33 succeeded in quitting during the study; these individuals reported being happiest during the time they quit (whether or not they stayed abstinent after the study is not known). The highest rate of depression was in the group that did not quit at all. The happiness level also dropped significantly in those who quit for a short time and then relapsed.

Participants were given standardized tests in depression symptoms 1 week before the quit date and then 2, 8, 16, and 28 weeks after that date. These smokers were also heavy drinkers, but it was found that drinking had no bearing on happiness measures. The participants worked with counselors, agreed to a quit date, and used nicotine patches. Quitters were less depressed when they took an active step toward both physical and mental health: “What’s surprising is that at the time when you measure smokers’ moods, even if they’ve only succeeded for a little while, they are already reporting less symptoms of depression,” Kahler said.

Details available at:http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/11/24/ntr.ntq213.abstract.

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