Anti-depressant bupropion may alleviate negative mood associated with quitting smoking

A NIDA-funded study at the University of Pennsylvania Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center has found that the anti-depressant bupropion may help people stop smoking by alleviating negative moods, such as depression and despair, often experienced during nicotine withdrawal. This is the first study to find that such psychological changes may contribute to bupropion's effects on smoking cessation outcomes in a clinical setting.

Dr. Caryn Lerman of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania led the research team that examined 251 male and female smokers ages 18 and older. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 10 weeks of treatment with bupropion or a placebo, plus behavioral counseling. Bupropion was initiated on the day of the first counseling session, two weeks before the target quit date. Counseling included nicotine fading (slowly decreasing nicotine intake), coping with cues that trigger smoking, stress management, and relapse prevention. During treatment, participants regularly completed questionnaires about their withdrawal symptoms and positive and negative feelings.

At the end of treatment, 48 percent of bupropion participants were abstinent from smoking, versus 29 percent of those receiving the placebo. The bupropion group exhibited a decrease in negative mood, while those receiving placebo showed an increase in negative mood. Although bupropion reduced the severity of the symptoms of withdrawal, negative mood was more strongly related to smoking relapse.

WHAT IT MEANS: Bupropion may be beneficial for smokers who experience negative moods and who smoke, in part, to manage these symptoms.


Contact: Blair Gately
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

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