Written By Caroline Meyer
There is a direct correlation between increased risk for depression among people that smoke versus non-smokers. Women are also at a higher risk of depression than men. Financial stasis, race and background do not seem to have much impact direct impact on the potential to be depressed.
Depression can affect people from all cultures and backgrounds. Some of the other aspects that affect potential to become depressed include big life changes, high levels of anxiety and stress, medical conditions, side effects from medication, use of drugs and alcohol and a family history of depression.
Women are encouraged to give up smoking when pregnant and breastfeeding to improve the outcome for their babies. Quitting smoking can also lead to mood changes such as sadness, restlessness, irritability and feelings of depression. This is due to withdrawal from the effects of nicotine in the blood stream. If the mood changes do not lighten up after a few weeks, consult your doctor as you may be experiencing depression. While for some people, smoking may seem to help with depression, the effects on the body are more harmful and actually lead to increase risks for depression in the long run. Nicotine is not recommended as a method to try and cope with depression. Your doctor can assist with recommending alternatives, especially during pregnancy and after the birth of a child.
Postnatal or postpartum depression is experienced by many women during pregnancy and after giving birth to a child. While any woman can become depressed, studies have shown that women who smoke have a much higher risk of developing PND than women who do not. This is especially true for women who give up smoking when falling pregnant to improve the potential health of their unborn baby. If you experience feelings of depression, there is help available without resorting to cigarettes.
PND may make you feel sad and down, empty or worthless. You may suffer from insomnia and other sleep issues. You may feel suicidal or feel that you may harm your baby. You may feel like you are a bad parent and cannot take care of your child. You may feel embarrassed that everything is not coming instinctually. You may have trouble bonding with your baby. You may feel emotionally numb and cut off from your social circle. While feeling down after having your baby is very common and is known as “baby blues”, symptoms that last for a longer period and actually prevent you from doing daily activities is likely to be a strong sign of depression.
Postnatal depression can have an effect on you, your partner and your baby. You may have difficulty coping and may not be able to deal with your baby. You may not be able to establish a routine and may disturb your baby during eating, sleeping and other needed tasks. It may also make you feel the need to take up smoking again in a bid to feel less unhappy. Your doctor will be able to help screen for depression and get you the help you need.
Where possible, try and give up smoking a few months before trying to fall pregnant. If it is an unplanned pregnancy, give up smoking as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor about staying smoke-free during pregnancy and postpartum. If you think you may be experiencing signs of depression, get help as soon as possible.