“Feel good” activities like smoking cigarettes can actually lead to depressive symptoms instead of the desired happiness and relaxation long-term, according to recent research.
A Science Daily article Friday stated that “smoking can increase depressive symptoms in teens.” The research came out of the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal.
The teens had used smoking as a way to feel better, but they ended up being more depressed long-term.
This isn’t necessarily new research – a study published in 2008 also found that “women who smoke are at greater risk of developing major depressive disorder.”
It can be tempting to smoke because it can feel relaxing temporarily, but it can also be related to more stress. A Pew Research Center report found that smokers “frequently experience stress in their daily lives” more often than non-smokers, though it is not completely certain if people who prefer to smoke are predisposed to stress and overall are just finding ways to self-medicate. However, the smoking doesn’t appear to be alleviating anything long-term.
For example, I smoke hookah occasionally and I still have depression, stress and some anxiety. However, during the time that I smoke, I do feel much more relaxed. I don’t smoke hookah generally to feel more relaxed – it’s a social thing and I enjoy the taste. Hookah and cigarette smoke are slightly different, but still comparable.
Although there are other causes of depression in women, according to the National Institute of Mental Health – genetics, chemicals and hormones, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression, menopause and stress – other unhealthy behaviors like drinking alcohol, avoiding exercise, sleeping and eating poorly can also be linked to depression.
Some of the above may be surprising. For example, according to www.kidshealth.org, alcohol is a depressant but “in very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious.” A Science Daily study then suggests that alcohol abuse may lead to more depression, instead of depression leading to self-medication involving alcohol.