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People who have depression often engage in harmful lifestyle behaviors such as overeating, drug abuse, or smoking. In fact, some research indicates that depression is one of the strongest contributors to cigarette smoking, especially among college students. Findings from a new study suggest the converse – that smoking may cause depressive symptoms.

The study involved more than 2,100 male and female college students (average age, 20 years) at two universities in Serbia. The students completed questionnaires about their socio-demographic status, lifestyle behaviors, and mood. Statistical analysis revealed that students who smoked were two to three times more likely to have depression compared to students who never smoked.

The authors of the study suggested that the mechanisms that drive this association may be related to the effects of nicotine on neurotransmitters in the brain and subsequent alterations in mood.

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