SMOKING (health effects of smoking) is widely known to damage the body but new Australian research suggests the addictive habit could be taking a toll on the mind too.

A study of more than a thousand women has found that females who smoke are more likely to develop major depression.

Heavy smokers – those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day – have almost double the risk of developing diagnosable depression than non smokers.

It has long been known that people with depression (depression causes)are more likely to smoke, but this longterm study is one of the first to suggest the habit may be triggering mental illness.

University of Melbourne researchers tracked healthy women for more than a decade, giving them a psychiatric assessment at the end.

“It was at this point we were able to determine if depression had developed and investigate whether or not smoking pre-dated the onset of depression,” said study leader Professor Julie Pasco.

Another study of 671 healthy women revealed 15 per cent of smokers went on to develop depression, compared to 6.5 per cent of non smokers.

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