Cigarette and depression — is there really a link?

Quitting smoking is a real challenge. Yes, your cigarette was a daily companion, present in almost every moment, so the separation is often harsh. But is this abandonment really related to depression? Explanations.

a woman crying with a smile drawn on a paper in front of her mouth.

April 2, 2019

Quitting smoking, it is well known, is not easy, and it ends up in multiple reactions of body and mind. Therefore, some commonly associate smoking cessation with depression. In fact, this is far away from being true: We must look carefully and clearly distinguish between depression and felling down, anxiety and irritability. Because on the contrary and in the long run, quitting tobacco will definitely bring a mood improvement. Thus, decrypting this question and putting an end to this misconception that can keep some people from giving up cigarettes is essential.

Do not confuse depression with feeling down

We should first recognize that feeling down is a frequent symptom of quitting. Everyone will say, in their own words: "Since I quit smoking, I have the blues, I feel gloomy, or down in the dumps". Indeed the substances contained in the cigarette release nicotine, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine which provide a particular pleasure to the smoker. That brings temporarily relative well-being. And when you stop smoking, it disappears.

So this decline in morale, this temporary depression, should in no way be confused with what is called a real depression.

But what is the link between smoking and depression? This is a debatable issue and deserves to be clarified.

What is the link between smoking and depression?

Does smoking lead to depression, or is it depression that leads to smoking? What do scientific studies say?

Studies have been conducted with adolescents, showing that those with depressive pathologies are twice as likely to be nicotine addicted, all other things being equal related, such as the social and family environment:

Thus, the facts show that in the long term, adolescent smokers are also those who report more depressive episodes.

This is especially true for teenagers claiming that smoking has an effect on their mood. In fact, this interrelation between smoking and depression persists beyond adolescence, and several surveys (Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1993 & 1996) have established the number of depressive states twice as high among smokers. »

In fact, and according to studies with a control group, quitting smoking, after weaning, makes you feel less depressive, lowers anxiety levels, improves your mood and quality of life.

That is why people who say be depressed during their smoking cessation, either confuse depression and feeling down, or already have a previous latent state of depression wrongly attributed to quitting smoking.

Tips for people that have “depression” or “feeling depressed” to successfully stop smoking

It is important to emphasize that people who are prone to chronic depression should treat it as much as possible before starting weaning. This will increase even more their chances of success.

It is advisable to follow the usual recommendations, to go along with this treatment, bearing in mind your own preferences, such as the practice of a sport or meditation, the use of relaxation methods and even giving yourself a treat. Also try to keep yourself motivated by thinking about the extended run benefits. The expected results are the vanishing of feelings of sadness and the elimination of depressive symptoms.

Remember that depressive symptoms usually go away in less than two months.

To make sure you don’t feel lonely and unmotivated, surround yourself by your loved ones, let them know that you are quitting and that you will need their support during this time, and download Kwit! Goodwill is the app's motto; a personalized follow-up full with positive and encouraging messages — there is no way you’ll feel down with Kwit!

a woman holding a smile drawn on a paper in front of her mouth.