Doctor: Antidepressant can help women stop smoking

A Yale University professor of psychiatry and neuroscience spoke with News 12’s Angelica Toruno on Saturday about how quitting smoking can be harder on women than men – but medication can help.

Angelica Toruno, Robyn Karashik and Rose Shannon

Jan 20, 2024, 6:45 PM

Updated 118 days ago

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A Yale University professor of psychiatry and neuroscience spoke with News 12’s Angelica Toruno on Saturday about how quitting smoking can be harder on women than men – but medication can help.
Dr. Marina Picciotto specializes in the use of nicotine and said that the brain chemistry of men and women impacts their ability to quit.
Common methods people might try include going cold-turkey or using nicotine patches.
"They actually work pretty well to help men quit smoking, but there are a bunch of studies that show that they're just not quite as good for women to stop smoking," said Picciotto.
Picciotto said medications like bupropion could make quitting easier for women. Picciotto also said that cases of anxiety, depression and major depressive disorder are two times higher in women than men – making women more prone to nicotine relapse.
"Something horrible happens and we reach for that cigarette. It's a way of controlling those anxiety and depression symptoms,” said Picciotto. “The problem is while it can be a short-term feeling of controlling those symptoms, long-term it could even make those symptoms worse."
That’s why experts are using bupropion, as it treats depression and helps stop nicotine use.
"Patients would come into their doctors and say, ‘It's really strange. I started taking this drug and I wasn't thinking of stopping smoking, but I had a really easy time just quitting,’" said Picciotto.
Picciotto encourages people to discuss goals to quit with doctors who can provide more information and resources to quit for good.
There is also a national helpline to anyone looking to quit – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline number is 1-800-662-4357.


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