TEENAGE vapers have a higher risk of depression and anxiety, a study claims.
Researchers found 60 per cent of 13- to 24-year-olds that used e-cigarettes experienced anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks and flashbacks.
University of Louisville in Kentucky researchers found teenage e-cigarette users are more likely to suffer with anxiety or depression[/caption]
For comparison, the figure was 40 per cent for non-vapers.
Half of e-cig puffers had symptoms of depression, compared to a quarter of non-users.
Dr Joy Hart, of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said teens with either condition may be more likely to take up vaping to calm down — which could be doing them more harm.
She said: “Younger people have long been vulnerable to tobacco use, may experience greater harm from nicotine and may be targeted by tobacco advertisers and marketers.
“E-cigarette devices are still relatively new compared to other tobacco products, so more research is needed to try to better understand their popularity.
“This includes reasons for vaping and the associated health risks among youth.”
Around 3.2million people in the UK use e-cigarettes, with research suggesting they are much healthier than traditional cigarettes.
The NHS recommends people use them to help them cut down on smoking, with the hope of eventually quitting for good.
But officials are concerned about rising use among young people, especially those who have never smoked.
Data on the long-term use of vapes and the impact on the body is sparse, and countless studies have shown vaping is not without risk.
The latest research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston.
What are the symptoms of depression?
The psychological symptoms of depression include:
- ontinuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- having no motivation or interest in things
- finding it difficult to make decisions
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious or worried
- having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
Source: The NHS
Experts surveyed around 2,500 teens and young adults to see how vaping impacted their mental health.
They split them into four categories: non-vapers, people who used nicotine e-cigarettes, those who vaped THC — the psychoactive chemical in cannabis — and those who vaped both nicotine and THC.
Some 70 per cent of THC vapers reported anxiety symptoms.
More than half of people in all vaping groups reported having suicidal thoughts within the past year, compared to one third of the non-users.
Vapers who used nicotine and THC were significantly more likely to be addicted to e-cigarettes, which was indicated by behaviours like waking up at night to vape.
Nicotine-only vapers were less likely to say they felt less depressed after vaping than those who also used THC.
More than a quarter of nicotine-only vapers said they would use an e-cigarette to calm down when hey feel stressed or anxious.
Dr Rose Marie, of the American Heart Association, said better coping skills can lead to “fewer temptations to try to manage anxiety symptoms through vaping”.
She said: Increased priority on more positive behaviours to manage anxiety symptoms may reduce the likelihood of vaping, possible addiction and the increased risk of negative health outcomes.
“There is also an urgent need for effective communication campaigns and educational programs to increase understanding among youth and young adults of the risks of using e-cigarettes.”