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Friday, September 10, 2010

Smoking to Self Medicate

People who smoke cigarettes do it for different reasons, some smoke to relieve stress in their life, others smoke for social purposes, and others are just simply addicted. The teenage years are usually when the habit of smoking is picked up, generally while in social gatherings with one's friends. Some teens end up becoming addicted and smoking makes them feel better so they continue smoking. Teenagers who smoke tobacco to “feel better” may actually be at increased risk for depressive symptoms, Science Daily reported.

662 high-school students were asked to fill out questionnaires over a five-year period about their smoking in order to improve mood ("self-medication"). They were also asked about depressive symptoms that showed up: excessive worry, feelings of hopelessness, and sleep problems. Canadian researchers found that those who smoked more cigarettes also had more depressive symptoms; those who smoke less had less depressive symptoms. That shows us that people who smoke to feel better are actually making life harder for themselves, which is usually the case with addiction and self-medicating.

"Although cigarettes may appear to have self-medicating effects or to improve mood, in the long term we found teens who started to smoke reported higher depressive symptoms," said Michael Chaiton, researcher at the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. The depressive symptoms that develop may actually lead teenagers to experimenting with other drugs to try and feel better, thus the cycle of addiction begins. Parents should really encourage their children to stay away from cigarettes, explain to them that science has proven that cigarettes are not only addictive; they also have the power to kill.

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