(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- Cigarette smokers frequently argue that the reason they don't stop smoking is that quitting would make life more depressing. But new research indicates the opposite is true. Persons who quit in a clinical trial actually showed lower signs of depression for weeks and months after giving it up.
Smokers who quit were happiest during periods of abstention, and if they began smoking again their moods turned darker, according to psychologist Christopher Kahler of Brown University, lead author of a study in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Participants in the study who never quit smoking were the most depressed of all. Those who quit entirely were the least depressed at the beginning of the months-long study and they remained the happiest throughout the project.
"We're still puzzling about why that's the case," Kahler said. "A sense of personal triumph makes a lot of sense. The people in this study were really motivated to succeed. And when you succeed at something that's important to you, you naturally feel better."
But he concedes that many ex-smokers complain that "they felt miserable for weeks" after quitting, and many say they resumed smoking because they felt depressed or anxious or irritated about something in their lives. Yet in this study, the less people smoked, the less they suffered from depression.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio