Depressed smokers experience adverse withdrawal states that contribute to resumption of smoking, including low mood, difficulty engaging in rewarding activities and impaired thinking/memory. These symptoms are more severe for people with depression than for those without depression. In addition, depressed smokers tend to have fewer ways to cope with the symptoms and the nicotine in cigarettes helps to reduce these problems, which is why depressed people tend to relapse at higher rates.
Many smokers learn, “If they smoke in this situation, their mood gets better”. But while smoking improves mood in the short term, it produces a long-term decline in mood. On the other hand, successfully quitting smoking is associated with improvements in mental health.
The review found that depressed smokers’ first adverse state while trying to quit is a combination of “low positive affect” (low pleasure and engagement in rewarding activities, such as socializing or physical activity) and “high negative affect” (feelings of anger, sadness, guilt or anxiety). The second adverse state is “cognitive impairment” (difficulty making decisions, focusing and memory).
Source: Northwestern University