Vaping and clinical depression linked, but big questions remain

Newly published research links the use of electronic cigarettes and clinical depression, raising questions over the role these devices play in mental health. The researchers behind the study found that heavier vape use was linked to more severe cases of depression, but big questions remain. Though people who are depressed may be more likely to vape, it's also possible that vaping has a negative effect on one's mood.

Electronic cigarettes contain a liquid solution featuring nicotine at varying strengths and a flavoring. These devices are often used as substitutes for tobacco cigarettes, the use of which has a known link with depression. In a new study published in JAMA, researchers reveal that vaping is likewise associated with depression.

The data was collected on 892,394 participants under the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System; of them, 28,736 were current electronic cigarette users. The majority of the users were between the ages of 18 to 69 with younger single males being more likely to vape than other people.

The researchers found that current electronic cigarette users had a 2.10 times higher chance of reporting a history of clinical depression compared to people who never vaped. As well, former vapers had 1.6 times higher odds of reporting the same mood disorder. Participants who reported the highest levels of electronic cigarette use were also more likely to have experienced depression.

Ultimately, the study concluded that there is a 'signficant cross-sectional association' between depression and vaping, but additional research is necessary to determine whether depressed people are more likely to vape or whether vaping increases the risk of developing's also possible that both are true, pulling users into a vicious cycle.