Nicotine Dependence Linked to Higher Rates of Mental Disorders Among Teens

March 2012

Teens who reported more symptoms of nicotine dependence in a recent study had higher prevalence of mood, anxiety, and disruptive (attention deficit hyperactivity, conduct, oppositional defiant) disorders. Researchers attributed the correlations mainly to psychiatric problems increasing the risk of nicotine dependence, although nicotine dependence heightened the risk of one psychiatric diagnosis, oppositional defiant disorder. The data for the study were longitudinal computerized assessments obtained over 2 years from 814 6th- to 10th-grade students from 43 Chicago public schools and their mothers. All of the youths had smoked at least once; about 54 percent experienced at least one of the seven nicotine dependence criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; 26 percent met three or more of these criteria, thereby qualifying for a diagnosis of nicotine dependence; and 43 percent were assigned a psychiatric diagnosis.

Bar graph shows the lowest rates of anxiety, mood, and disruptive disorders, as well as any of those psychiatric disorders and all three disorders, among teens with no symptoms of nicotine dependence. Those who met one or two criteria for d


Griesler, P.C., et al. Comorbid psychiatric disorders and nicotine dependence in adolescence.  Addiction 106(5):1010–1020, 2011. Abstract Available

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