By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 3, 2011
New research suggests diagnosed or undiagnosed depression can hinder an individual’s efforts to stop smoking.
In the study, published in the January 2011 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. scientists determined approximately 24 percent of surveyed callers to the California Smokers’ Helpline currently suffered from major depression and 17 percent of callers had mild depression.
Over half the surveyed callers, depressed or not, made at least one attempt to quit after calling the helpline.
At the two-month mark, however, the success rate of those with major depression was much lower than that of mildly depressed or non-depressed callers. Nearly one in five callers with major depression reported success, but of others, nearly one in three was able to remain smoke-free.
Most quit-lines do not assess smokers for depression, even though mild depression already is known to reduce the success of quitting. This study suggests that major depression reduces the success rate even farther.
That is important because the California quit-line receives a high number of calls from heavy smokers and smokers on Medicaid – two circumstances associated with depression. Since more than 400,000 smokers call U.S. quit-lines every year, the authors believe that up to 100,000 depressed smokers nationally are not getting the targeted treatment they need.
“Assessing for depression can predict if a smoker will quit successfully, but the assessment would be more valuable if it were linked to services,” said lead study author Kiandra Hebert, Ph.D., of the University of California at San Diego.
Hebert said an integrated health care model is a potential solution. Depressed smokers could have better quitting success if they receive services that address both issues. Quit-lines, which are extremely popular, are in a good position to offer such services to a large number of depressed smokers and to pass on the services they develop to quit-lines across the country.
Treatment programs, including quit-lines, report that a growing number of callers have other disorders, such as depression, said Wendy Bjornson, co-director of the Oregon Health & Science University Smoking Cessation Center, who was not involved in the study.
“The results of this study are important. They show the scope of the problem and point to the need for protocols that can lead to better outcomes.”
Source: Health Behavior News Service