Cheer Up — Depression Can Speed Up The Aging Process

Intro_slide_depressionIllustrated by Ly Ngo.
Everyone has a bad day, but when days turn into weeks or months, depression may be the issue. We're not just talking about simple winter blues here, friends. Along with weight gain/loss, feelings of hopelessness, and decreased energy, a new study reported by BBC News claims that depression can make us physically older by speeding up the aging process in our cells.
The study took a look at the cells from more than 2,000 people who were currently severely depressed or had been in the past. Now, without trying to sound too much like your high school science teacher, the researchers measured something called telomere length to assess cellular aging. These futuristic-sounding powerhouses have a major responsibility: They cap the end of our chromosomes that hold our DNA, thus protecting our genetic code. As cells divide, the telomeres get shorter, which means our DNA is less protected and more likely to be injured. This can contribute to us looking older.
Dr. Josine Verhoeven from the VU University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, who conducted the study along with a team from the U.S., concluded that "this large-scale study provides convincing evidence that depression is associated with several years of biological aging, especially among those with the most severe and chronic symptoms." So, forget about all those fancy-schmancy anti-aging skin creams and put on a happy face instead. Seeking professional help for depression can help you in more ways than one. (BBC News)

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