Depression Speeds Aging In The Elderly

Depression Speeds Aging
5/5 - (1 vote)
Major depression is not only psychologically crippling but can also age a person’s body on a cellular level. That’s the conclusion of a new study that examined blood samples from more than 2,400 people with and without depression. Researchers at the Free University of Amsterdam measured the length of telomeres, the small caps at the ends of chromosomes that protect a cell’s DNA and shorten each time a cell divides, making them a useful marker of aging. The studies revealed that depression speeds aging.

The scientists found that people who had been depressed at any point in time had significantly shorter telomeres than people who had never been depressed. The average degradation—apparent even after taking lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking into account—amounted to four to six years of additional aging. “Psychological distress, as experienced by depressed persons, has a large, detrimental impact on the ‘wear and tear’ of a person’s body, resulting in accelerated biological aging,” says researcher Josine Verhoeven. An important next question is whether this cellular aging can be reversed; past studies have demonstrated that a healthier diet, exercise, and stress management may lengthen telomeres.