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.
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.
"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 smokers.
"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 non-smokers."