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Quitting smoking relieves depression

SMOKERS who believe their habit relieves stress and depression are mistaken, according to new research from three universities.

Experts found that quitting smoking can be just as effective in tackling depression and anxiety as taking antidepressants.

Writing online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers said the effect of quitting was the same, if not bigger, than using the tablets.

The team, from the universities of Birmingham, Oxford, and King's College London, analysed 26 studies for their research.

They found those who quit smoking experienced a significant drop in anxiety, depression and stress.

The effect was the same among the general population of smokers as those with a diagnosed mental health problem.

The researchers concluded that "smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke".

Participants in the studies were 44 years old on average. They smoked about 20 cigarettes a day, and were followed up for an average of six months.

The researchers said healthcare professionals who have been reluctant to offer stop-smoking advice to people with mental health disorders, for fear of quitting making them worse, should be encouraged by the findings of the study.