Smoking Seems to Backfire on Teens Hoping for a Lift

THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking increases depressive symptoms in teens, especially among those who say they smoke to improve their mood, researchers have found.

The new study included 662 Canadian students between grades 7 and 11 who completed up to 20 questionnaires about their use of cigarettes to affect their mood. The participants were divided into three groups: never smokers; smokers who used cigarettes to self-medicate; and smokers who said their use of cigarettes was not to self-medicate, enhance mood or physical state.

Depressive symptoms were measured using a scale that asked the teens how often they: felt lethargic; had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; had a sad or depressed mood; felt hopeless about the future; experienced nervousness or tension; and felt excessively worried about things.

The results were released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

"Smokers who used cigarettes as mood enhancers had higher risks of elevated depressive symptoms than teens who had never smoked," study co-author Jennifer O'Loughlin, a professor in the social and preventive medicine department at the University of Montreal and a scientist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, said in a news release from the university.

"Although cigarettes may appear to have self-medicating effects or to improve mood, in the long term we found teens who started to smoke reported higher depressive symptoms," lead author Michael Chaiton, a research associate at the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto, said in the news release.

"It's important to emphasize that depressive symptom scores were higher among teenagers who reported emotional benefits from smoking after they began to smoke," he added.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of Montreal, news release, Aug. 27, 2010