Depression is a common and modifiable
barrier whose treatment may help to increase successful smoking
cessation. The prevalence of smoking has remained fairly stable over the past
decade after declining sharply for many years.
To determine whether an
increase in certain barriers to successful cessation and sustained
abstinence may be contributing to this slowed decline, researchers at
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed changes
in the prevalence of depression among current, former and never smokers
in the U.S.
‘While the prevalence of depression is consistently highest among smokers, the rate of increase in depression was most prominent among former and never smokers.
The research team found that depression appeared to have
significantly increased in the U.S. from 2005 to 2013 among smokers, as
well as among former and never smokers. While the prevalence of
depression is consistently highest among smokers, the rate of increase
in depression was most prominent among former and never smokers.
full study findings are published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence
The research team, led by Renee Goodwin, in the Department
of Epidemiology, analyzed data from the National Household Survey on
Drug Use, an annual cross-sectional study of approximately 497, 000
Americans, ages 12 and over. The prevalence of past 12-month depression
was examined annually among current (past 12-month), former (not past
12-month), and lifetime non-smokers from 2005 to 2013. The researchers
further analyzed the data by age, gender, and household income.
"The prevalence of depression increased and remains higher among
current smokers overall, but the rate of the increase among former and
never smokers was even more prominent," noted Dr. Goodwin. Striking
temporal changes emerged by age, gender and income. Specifically,
depression increased significantly, from 16% to 22%, among
current smokers aged 12 to17, and the prevalence was consistently more
than twice as high as that of never smokers.
The increase in depression
also rose from 6% to 8% among male smokers and increased
from 6% to 9% among smokers in the highest income group.
Throughout this period, the prevalence of depression among current
smokers was consistently twice as high as among former and never
"The very high rates of depression among the youngest smokers,
those aged 12-17, is very concerning, as it may impair their ability not
only to stop smoking, but also to navigate the important developmental
tasks of adolescence that are important for a successful adult life"
said Mailman School of Public Health's Dr. Deborah Hasin, a senior
member of the research team.
"Public health efforts aimed at decreasing the prevalence of
smoking must take depression into account," said Dr. Goodwin, adjunct associate professor of
Epidemiology. "We also need to examine factors that may be leading
increases in depression in the U.S. population among both smokers and