Bad news for people who already get a lot of bad news: Clinical depression may rapidly accelerate the aging process.
According to a new study by researchers in California and the Netherlands found a link between those who have major depressive disorder (MDD) and the rapid aging of cells.
The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychology.
Study authors said that after examining the white blood cells of more than 2,400 Dutch study participants, they found that people with clinical depression had shorter telomeres than their healthy peers.
Telomeres are strands of protective DNA that cap the tips of chromosomes within a cell. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little bit shorter. Eventually the telomeres become so small that the cell begins to shut itself down.
Shortened telomeres have been linked to health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer, but this is the first time researchers have linked them to depression.
“Overall, this study provides convincing evidence for the suggestion than an emotional stressful condition, such as MDD, may truly impact on the physical ‘wear and tear’ of a person’s body resulting in accelerated biological aging,” the authors wrote.