Smoking linked to mental health problems

Smokers might be more at risk of developing mental health problems, as a study has found a connection between tobacco and conditions such as depression.

Scientists at the University of Bristol published a study in the journal Psychological Medicine, which found smoking could actually cause mental health problems, instead of just being a habit that is more common among those who suffer from emotional difficulties.

Dr Robyn Wootton, who was the first author of the research, was reported by The Guardian as saying: “There was evidence of causal effects in both directions.”

The team looked at people who had a genetic predisposition to smoking cigarettes and those who did not to determine the risk of developing depression or schizophrenia. They examined 378 genetic variants previously linked to smoking and 126 genetic variants that were connected to a higher score for lifetime smoking.

Dr Wootton used this data to compile two databases, one that included people with schizophrenia and the other that involved those with major depression. He then compared the data with the genetic variants.

It was determined that starting smoking and higher levels of smoking are both linked to a greater risk of developing major depression and schizophrenia. It also showed those with a genetic disposition to this mental health problem were more likely to smoke more.

Following on from these findings, Dr Wootton stated: “If [smoking] is also making the risk of mental illness worse then we should be helping individuals who have existing mental health problems to stop as well.”

This comes after a study in the medical journal Human Brain Mapping recently revealed the link between smoking and back pain.

It showed those who smoke are three times as likely to develop chronic back pain, as “smoking interferes with the brain circuit associated with pain”, the Express reported.

If you’re a smoker, experiencing back pain, chronic back pain, anxiety and/or depression, get in touch and we can work on a programme together to get you back to good health.