Are you smoking more and enjoying it less?  Well, researchers may have found the reason why.

smoking can cause depression, making it that much more difficult to quit

It’s been known for years that smokers develop permanent facial lines radiating out around their lips, from years of sucking on rolled up vegetable leaves.  Well, in addition to associating smokers with puckered faces, it seems we can also associate them with long faces. 

There are thousands of chemicals other than nicotine constituents in cigarette smoke, of which one, or several, may affect mood in much the same way as a group of antidepressant medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors or (MAOIs). These MAOIs effectively increase levels of specific neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood. Smoking, therefore, may be a way for depressed individuals to self-medicate depressive symptoms.

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Dr. Alexander Glassman, of New York State Psychiatric Institute, discussed his findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  He notes that people with a history of depression are more likely to smoke, and 40% less likely to quit for good. It seems that even smokers who aren’t now depressed, but have suffered major depression at some time in their past, are just as likely to have trouble as those who are currently depressed. 

It just goes to prove the old adage, that it is not enough for a doctor to discover what kind of an addiction each patient has, but one must find out what kind of a person each addiction has.  In other words, by just using generic treatments for smokers without heeding the rest of their health problems, doctors and patients alike can fail, in spite of the best intentions. One of the common features of these cases is that the ex-smoker becomes very depressed after stopping cigarettes.  Because of this Dr. Glassman is studying whether anti-depressant drugs can help such smokers quit successfully. 

If you are planning to quit smoking, by all means do it now.  But if you have had a history of depression, make sure you see your doctor for advice, and, if indicated, for short term antidepressant medications.

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