According to new research, by psychologists at the State University of New York at Buffalo, children before their teenage years are ambivalent to cigarettes and have both positive and negative associations with them. However, the age of 13 onwards is a critical period for preventing smoking, and substance abuse in general, as this is when children are most susceptible to social influences, the media and peer pressure.
The benefits to our physical health of giving up cigarettes are well documented, but a recent study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research has also revealed heavy smokers (20 or more a day) are three times more likely to suffer from major depression compared to heavy smokers who have quit. This finding, although not new, is interesting because researchers have found a one-way causal effect between smoking and depression. That is to say, smoking heavily causes depression rather than the other way round, i.e. depression doesn’t necessarily cause us to smoke.
However, depression and smoking may share certain vulnerabilities, such as our genetic make-up, which may effect the onset of smoking but equally may effect our ability to quit. Indeed, it has been found that women find it harder to give up smoking than men and this has been attributed to the fact that women's brains respond differently to nicotine.
If you need help to give up smoking, please contact your local First Psychology centre:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
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Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk