Smokers with depression who successfully quit smoking using stop smoking services may see an improvement in their mental health, according to new research funded by Cancer Research UK.
Researchers at Kings College London and the Charles University in Prague who studied people attending a stop smoking clinic in the Czech Republic found that successful quitters demonstrated a considerable improvement in their depression. Two-thirds (66.3%) of those who had moderate to severe depression when smoking described no or minimal symptoms during a one-year follow up.
Dr Leonie Brose, a Cancer Research UK fellow based at King’s College London and senior author of the publication, said: 'Our study shows that stop smoking services can be very effective at supporting people with depression, and that increased visits greatly improve the success of quit attempts. The findings also suggest that giving up smoking may improve depressive symptoms, improving mental as well as physical health.
She hopes that this research will help 'boost mental health services and stop smoking services in the UK giving effective support and medication to those who need it most.'
However, the research found that people with depression were still less likely to quit successfully than those who did not have depression. Researchers say this highlights that different groups can benefit to different extents from the same support, and suggests that people with mental health problems need extra help.
The research was published as stop smoking services across England continue to face budget cuts. Since 2013 public health budget cuts have been cut and many local areas provide limited smoking cessation services.
Alison Cox, cancer research UK's director of cancer prevention said that 'reducing the dramatic difference in the health of social groups is a really important issue.'
'Because of this, it's vital to protect funding for specialist stop smoking services, which remain the most effective route to quitting,' she added.
Smoking among people with mental health conditions is more than double those of the general population (approximately 40% compared with 20%. It is estimated that of the 9.6 million adult smokers in the UK around 3 million have a mental health condition. Smoking is the single biggest factor contributing to a lower life expectancy associated with a mental health condition. It is estimated that those with mental health conditions have a decreased life expectancy of
up to 10-20 years.