Friday, December 21, 2007

Smoking weakens the nerves

enschede disaster
Think twice before lighting up in order to cope with stress because, in contrast, nerves will get more vulnerable. Just look at this exhausted firefighter at the Enschede fireworks disaster of May 13, 2000, having a cigarette break. More than sixty of his rescue worker colleagues have been examined soon after the disaster and again eighteen months later. It came out that smoking predicts posttraumatic stress disorders among rescue workers involved in the disaster: Those who smoked were more affected by fear of intrusions, avoidance, hostility, and depression than the non-smokers. These symptoms are typical for the posttraumatic stress disorder.

The sense of relief that comes along with a cigarette is just as deceptive as the sense of warmth that comes along with alcohol in the cold. The well-being is an illusion in both cases. In reality, the nerves get weaker and the body cools down. In the worst cases we see nervous breakdowns and deaths from cold.

Photo credit: Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research

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