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As if feeling depressed and stressed isn’t bad enough on its own, now there is evidence that people who experience recurrent depression or who are exposed to chronic stress are aging faster as well.
New research from a team at Umea University has found that telomeres in white blood cells are shorter in persons experiencing recurrent depression and chronic stress. The telomere is the outermost part of the chromosome and with advancing age, they shorten. Studies show that oxidative stress and inflammation accelerates the shortening. Based on this, many consider telomere length an indicator of biological age. Telomeres have also been linked to age related diseases, unhealthy lifestyle and longevity. Interestingly, persons vulnerable to recurrent stress and depression could be a part of a cycle: depression leading to advanced aging leading to age related illness leading to depression and the cycle starts again.
For the study, the team looked at 91 patients with depression and 451 healthy individuals acting as control group. They found that the depressed individuals had shorter telomere length in the white blood cells than the controls. They also examined stress regulation using dexamethasone suppression test which measures cortisol levels.
“The test revealed that cortisol levels indicative of chronic stress are associated with shorter telomeres in both depressed and healthy individuals,” says Mikael Wikgren, a doctoral candidate in the research group. Depressed individuals have disrupted cortisol production and the cortisol is linked to the shortening of the telomeres. Cortisol and stress together play a key role in depressive disorders.
Source: Biological Psychiatry, MedicalNewsToday
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