New research has found that quitting smoking can lead to significant mental health improvements for people with depression.
Conducted by University of Melbourne researchers, with support from depression support body beyondblue, the study followed more than 800 people who contacted support service Quitline seeking advice on how to quit smoking, a quarter of which were diagnosed with depression.
The study found that 37 per cent of smokers reported a prolonged period of feeling depressed compared with only 16 per cent of people who had quit smoking for longer than six months.
Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said the research overturned popular assumptions about smoking as a stress reliever and relaxant.
“We know that people often smoke to ease stress or boost their mood, but the opposite is actually true. Research has shown quitting smoking eases depressive symptoms and those effects can last for as long as the smoker stays off the cigarettes,” Carnell said.
However, the research also found that people with depression found it harder to quit smoking, with only one-third of depressed subjects successfully quitting for six months or more compared to 50 per cent of people without depression.
The study also found that a minority of depressed people became more depressed shortly after quitting smoking – 18 per cent of subjects with depression reported a “significant increase” in depressive mood within two months of quitting, compared with only five per cent of non-depressive quitters.
However, the research did not find a direct link between quitting smoking and short-term depressive effects.
The 2005 ‘Private Life’ study of LGBTI health patterns found that LGBTI people were almost twice as likely to be regular smokers, with 38.3 per cent of gay men, 35.6 per cent of gay women, 44.1 per cent of transgender males and 42.9 percent of intersex females using tobacco more than fives times a month compared to only 24 per cent of the wider community.
The same study found that LGBTI people experienced significantly higher rates of depression than the general population.