Many people overlook the huge psychological impact giving up cigarettes can have on a person. Or rather, they tend to believe the exact opposite of the truth. Many people believe quitting leads to long-term negative effects, but new research proves this is incorrect. A recent study published in the December issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine has effectively proved that the psychological effects are for the better instead of the worse. The study was done on a group of 572 smokers and ran by a team of knowledgeable researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. The study involved real-time measurements labeled as ecological momentary assessments. For one full week after these smokers gave up their cigarettes, and for another week after the one year mark, the researchers studied the withdrawal symptoms smokers were suffering from. The discoveries of this withdrawal research can help to ease smokers vague and unfounded fears of quitting.
Findings On Emotional Instability
Many smokers have unfounded fears keeping them from permanently giving up cigarettes, but the truth is your quality of life will greatly improve as time continues to pass. By the time those who quit smoking had reached the one year mark they saw a decrease in the frequency of stressful events experienced. This supports the belief that quitting helps to decrease daily stress levels. Those who successfully quit experienced a steady decline in cravings while those who continued smoking found that cravings decreased only slightly. There was also a decrease in the restlessness, anger, and irritability quitters had experienced as smokers. Those who continued smoking continued to experience these feelings at a steady or increasing level.
The discoveries on anger and irritability were determined to only be a trend because they just barely fell short of statistical significance. There are numerous reasons, however, besides withdrawal why non-smokers may still be angry after quitting. Some may need to simply learn how to best handle their anger without smoking a cigarette. For these people, reaching out for a smoke was how they best managed their anger for any number of years. Despite strong stereotypes for quitters being angry and irritable, the research has conclusively proved that after one year of being smoke-free the majority of people no longer suffer from these emotional instabilities.
Changes Between Just Quitting & A Year Later
People who quit saw a significant improvement in their withdrawal symptoms a year later in comparison to the first week of quitting. The study was able to confirm the fact that withdrawal is only temporary, lasting an amount of time roughly equivalent to that of a bad cold. This means that, contrary to popular belief, smokers are not trading smoking for a lifetime of nicotine withdrawal syndrome. They are simply experiencing short term discomfort in the process of creating a better life for themselves.
Withdrawal usually sets in a few hours after your last cigarette. It will last anywhere between three and four weeks, with symptoms tending to peak between days one to four. This peak is generally due to the fact that all of the nicotine is out of your body. Although the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are wide-ranging, the psychological symptoms commonly associated with this discomfort include:
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling jittery
- lack of patience
- feelings of anger
The Healing Process
Your body will naturally heal itself throughout the course of your first year as a non-smoker. If you are able to remain smoke-free you will experience numerous lasting health benefits. Just a few of these health benefits include a higher stamina, stronger immune system, increased life expectancy, lower chance of heart disease, and an easier time breathing. In addition to this, you may also notice an improvement in your eyes, hair, nails, and skin. Most noticeably your sense of taste and smell will also gradually improve. There are many more benefits, but those are just a few to give you an idea of what the healing process entails.
The conclusion of these findings is that life truly does get better once a person successfully quits cigarettes. Their life is greatly improved in numerous ways. Amongst these ways are a vast number of psychological differences that, combined together, have the ability to drastically improve a persons quality of life. Try to remember what can be expected after being smoke free for just a single year when tempted to pick up a cigarette. The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary, but the generous health benefits- both physical and emotional- greatly outweigh that temporary discomfort.