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Severe Depression May Speed Up Aging Process, Says Study

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Heba Hossam, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Heba Hossam

    Heba Hossam Active member

    Dec 21, 2013
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    Cairo, Egypt
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    A recent study says that depression may trigger aging. Researchers found that the cells of people who suffer from severe depression age faster.

    The study was carried out by Dutch researchers with Josine Verhoeven as the lead author. The researchers shed light on the impact of depression on cells. They examined above 2,400 participants with and without depression. The cell structures called telomeres of these participants were compared.

    Telomeres are like the plastic tips of a shoe lace, which are present on the chromosomes and shield the DNA of the cell from getting damaged. The telomeres tend to get shorter as the cell divides and is an indicator of aging.

    Generally around 14 to 20 base pairs of DNA in the telomeres are lost annually, which signify 4 to 6 years of aging, but the researchers found that people who suffer from depression had extremely short telomeres lacking 83 to 84 base pairs of DNA compared to those who did not suffer from depression, Everyday Health reported.

    These shorter telomeres lose their ability to divide and end up affecting the body organs, weakening the immune system. People diagnosed with severe depression tend to suffer from problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart ailments, liver cirrhosis and even cancer.

    The researchers were unable to explain the reasons behind the DNA damage and cell aging even after considering the harmful lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking.

    "Results like ours suggest that 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," said Verhoeven, a doctoral researcher at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, in a Everyday Health report.

    The experimenters have found that the shortening of telomeres may be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle comprising of good diet and physical activities, as they aid in cutting down stress.

    This study has been published in Nov.12 edition of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


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