Health-care providers have a number of tried and proven ways to treat the depression that sometimes comes with trying to quit smoking, says Sundre physician Dr. Hal Irvine.ìPhysicians can definitely help smokers who are motivated to quit, and we can definitely help with depression,î said Dr. Irvine. ìI encourage people who are struggling with quitting smoking to talk to their physician.ìAlso, anyone experiencing significant sadness or feelings of depression or hopelessness should also talk to their doctor as soon as possible. Help is available.îA new study released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health last week reportedly found that people trying to quit smoking are often hit with depression.Specifically, the study found that people who smoke a pack or more of cigarettes a day had elevated levels of a protein called monoamine oxidase in their brains in the early stages of abstaining from smoking.Monoamine oxidase is often found in high levels in people suffering from clinical depression.While past research has shown elevated levels of monoamine oxidase in people diagnosed with clinical depression, the findings, for the first time, reportedly found a link between depression and cigarette withdrawal.Jeffrey Meyer, a senior scientist with the Centre for Addiction who oversaw the study, reportedly said the findings may help explain depression in people trying to kick the habit.Elevated levels of monoamine oxidase were discovered among heavy smokers eight hours after having their last cigarette. Those smokers also reported increased feelings of sadness in questionnaires done as part of the study.Although the new study was not a large sampling - involving only about 50 subject patients ñ its findings are informative, says Dr. Irvine.ìIt was a small study, and difficult to draw any conclusions from it, but it is an interesting piece of information, putting together the puzzle of why tobacco is such a difficult addiction to quit, and helps increase our understanding why smokers have higher depression and suicide rates than non-smokers,î he said.Meanwhile, Chinook's Edge School Division students who are interested in quitting smoking during the upcoming school year have a number of options and help programs available, says family wellness worker Mark Ballantyne.One quitting option open to students of all ages is the ìKick The Nicî program operated by the division under the auspices of Alberta Health Services, he explained.The program offers individual and group cessation sessions throughout the year. The program is available through family wellness workers at request.A second option, the Seven Challenges Program, is a journaling system that allows the youth smoker to confront any type of addiction, including tobacco, alcohol or drug dependencies.Under the program students complete journals as they move through the quitting process, with the journals reviewed by the students and their program helpers.A third quitting option is the Smokers Hotline offered by Alberta Health to any person, including youths. That program is available at 1-866-332-2322 every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.Chinook's Edge has 40 schools in West Central Alberta.