The results were obtained using a biomarker of nicotine exposure.
The study found non-smokers exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke were 62 percent more likely to report suffering from psychological distress. That's when compared to people not exposed to smoke.
The findings also suggest a risk of a psychiatric hospital admission was related to high secondhand smoke exposure as well as to active smoking. Non-smokers exposed to a considerable amount of secondhand smoke were almost three-times as likely to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital when compared to people not exposed to smoke.
For smokers, hospital admissions were almost quadrupled.
Researchers point out that previous studies on animals have indicated that tobacco can induce a negative mood. But they note that they only studied cases severe enough to warrant hospital admission.
The findings can be found in Archives of General Psychiatry.
Reuters contributed to this report.