Date With Destiny
2005-05-29 20:51:16 (UTC)

Advise about Depression and not smoking

Tina, I too suffered from depression after I quit. We are
constantly being told that smoking did nothing for us.
However, I've read many articles that say it DID give us
pleasure. Nicotine is dangerous and addictive, and smoking
is the worst form of ingesting nicotine, there is no
question about that. But I think some of us were getting
some measurable pleasure from it. And learning to live
without it is NOT easy.

Quitnet Expert Help says ...........

Q. Are there benefits to smoking?

A. All smokers receive some sort of therapeutic benefit
from smoking; that benefit varies only by degree from one
person to the next. Recent studies indicate that nicotine
may be helpful in issues [relating to Alzheimer's,
Parkinson’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis.] The potential
health risks, however, so outweigh any possible benefits
that only the most irresponsible of advocates would call
for continued tobacco use.

Right now the only known benefit of smoking is a societal
one: if the heavy smokers die young, they won't deplete the
retirement funds for everybody else.


I've also read that "Nicotine releases dopamine, a 'feel
good' chemical in the brain ........

Every time you smoke nicotine, the brain releases
dopamine." Smoking is so addictive because of the dopamine
release to the brain, which is the body's natural way of
giving us a "reward". This dopamine release gives us a
feeling of pleasure. When we quit, we stop getting these
pleasurable feelings every 30 minutes or so.

Brief exposure to low levels of nicotine not only boosts
the brain’s ‘reward’ system but also blocks a rival system
that limits the duration of such rewards, report University
researchers in the March 14 issue of the journal Neuron.
The finding helps scientists understand why nicotine
addiction takes root so quickly and lasts so long.

In 2000, a team from the same laboratory demonstrated how
the first exposure to nicotine can create an
enduring ‘memory trace,’ which instils the desire to repeat
the experience and amplifies the pleasing effects of
subsequent nicotine exposure. The current paper reveals how
nicotine prolongs the reward period by disabling the system
that counterbalances the drug’s pleasant effects.

The reinforcing effect of nicotine is the primary reason
people cannot quit smoking, despite widespread awareness
that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke,
emphysema, bronchitis, vascular disease, cataracts and
impotence. The World Health Organization attributes four
million deaths each year to tobacco use.

“It would be difficult to design a better drug to promote
addiction to this horrible habit,” said neurobiologist
Daniel McGehee, Assistant Professor in Anaesthesia &
Critical Care and director of the study. “It takes only a
few exposures to create a lasting memory of the rewards of
smoking, which are reinforced by each cigarette smoked. Now
we find that nicotine also suppresses the brain’s efforts
to limit that pleasure.”

The brain reward areas serve to acknowledge and reinforce
beneficial behaviors, for example, eating when hungry.
Specialized nerve cells encourage the body to repeat
pleasing behaviors by releasing dopamine, the
neurotransmitter associated with pleasant feelings, into
these reward areas. “That was good,” is the basic message
of increased dopamine levels. “Do it again.”

Unfortunately, drugs of abuse such as nicotine can usurp
those pathways, providing the same sort of encouragement
for harmful actions such as smoking.

McGehee and his colleagues, postdoctoral researchers
Huibert Mansvelder and Russel Keith, working with brain
tissue from rats, demonstrated how nicotine extends the
duration of these rewards.

In previous work, McGehee’s team showed that nicotine
produces pleasure by attaching to the nicotinic
acetylcholine receptor found on certain nerve cells. In
response to nicotine, these nerve cells release a chemical
signal called glutamate, which tells connected neurons to
release dopamine. The more these nerve cells are excited,
the more dopamine is released and the more pleasant the

In this paper, the researchers looked at the effects of
nicotine on nerve cells that use a different chemical,
called GABA, which inhibits dopamine release. These nerve
cells have a slightly different version of the nicotinic
acetylcholine receptor. Although they respond to the
initial nicotine exposure, these receptors quickly become
overwhelmed and lose their power to generate repeated
releases of GABA. This renders them unable to reign in the
excitation caused by nicotine. They remain disabled for up
to an hour.

“As a result,” said McGehee, “the reward system is turned
on right away and it keeps sending reward signals for 60
minutes even though nicotine levels drop off 15 minutes
after smoking. We suspect that this ability to extend the
reward only enhances the drug’s ability to reinforce

It may also provide a new target for drugs designed to help
people stop smoking by interfering with nicotine’s effects.

-- John Easton
Medical Center Public Affairs, Chicago, IL.


We need to find alternative ways to stimulate our pleasure
centers :-)

And, as someone mentioned, vigorous exercise works wonders
for many people. Hope you find a way to beat your blues.
Talking to your doctor may be a good starting point.

best wishes,
Linda D.
d 163