From teen smoking to adult depression

Research published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology links adolescent smoking to depressive symptoms in adulthood. Rats were given either nicotine or saline doses in adolescence. Behavioural changes resembling depression or anxiety, including repetitive grooming, reduced consumption of rewards, and freezing in anxiety-provoking situations, were reported. Even a single day of nicotine exposure had long-lasting effects.

These results represent yet another indication that drug use in adolescence has unusual, long-term negative effects. We found previous studies linking adolescent marijuana use to later psychotic symptoms, and an increased potential for oxycontin addiction in teenagers. The problem is that adolescence is a time of experimentation, when teen brains may be unable to consider the long-term impact of their behaviour, and are instead driven by immediate gratification. Governments are taking steps to reduce adolescent smoking; in our area, it’s illegal to display cigarettes in stores.

Have you spoken to your teenager about smoking? Do you feel that your own early substance use has had an impact on your adult life? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

You can read more about the study here.

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Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for information only. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor.

Encouraging Talent Development

Water Break by Nazareth College
Water Break by Nazareth College

Water Break by Nazareth College

Many parents wonder about the kind of encouragement that will help their kids to develop a talent. Should they be pushed to practice the piano, or enrolled in extra soccer practices? Deirdre Lyons and her colleagues interviewed elite athletes about the factors that encouraged or inhibited their progress in a study published in The Irish Journal of Psychology.

Most athletes were introduced to their sport by a family member, saying that their parents or siblings were enrolled in the activity first. Clubs and coaches provided important encouragement as well, and some athletes were introduced to their chosen activity by a friend. But what did they say was most helpful in encouraging them to continue to the elite level?

Mediterranean Diet Associated With Reduced Risk of Depression

Mediterranean DietCHICAGO – Individuals who follow the Mediterranean dietary pattern—rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish—appear less likely to develop depression, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The lifetime prevalence of mental disorders has been found to be lower in Mediterranean than Northern European countries, according to background information in the article. One plausible explanation is that the diet commonly followed in the region may be protective against depression. Previous research has suggested that the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil—used abundantly in the Mediterranean diet—may be associated with a lower risk of severe depressive symptoms.

Stress and Pregnancy: What about post-partum?

Post Partum DepressionThis week, Dr. G has written about the lack of clarity in the pregnancy/stress research, the findings that are more consistent, and he gave some hints about how mothers can reduce stress. But, even though many parents are relieved after the birth of their healthy child, the stress doesn’t disappear in the post-partum period. Probably everyone reading this has heard of post-partum (or perinatal) depression (PPD). Although some research has estimated the rates of PPD at 10-20% of women post-delivery, a closer look at the statistics indicates that there is a high degree of variability between and within countries. Lee & Chung in 2007 estimated that rates varied between 0.5% to over 60% depending on the population.

Mothers with PPD may experience a number of symptoms, many of which overlap with Major Depressive Disorder:

  • Sad mood, crying, and tearfulness
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Low energy
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Change in appetite
  • Concentration problems
  • Feelings of helplessness and/or inadequacy

For some mothers, PPD interferes with the development of their bond with their infant; they may feel emotionally detached from their baby or from other family members. Mothers may also lose their temper with the baby, and in some cases, they may wish to harm their infant. This anger and irritability sometimes surprises new moms, who may have expected to feel sad rather than irritable and short-tempered. An article on the Baby Ready blog described one mother’s experience that was later identified as PPD:

Do I feel depressed? Not exactly. Do I sit and weep inconsolably? Who has time? So, how do I feel? Angry. Ridiculously, illogically, uncontrollably angry. I am irritable, impatient, and resentful. Then I feel guilty, which makes me feel angry all over again.