There are a lot of external factors that can make us look older, such as smoking and a poor diet. However, there are also factors inside of us that are at play. Stress is a factor that can have many negative impacts on our life, including sleep loss and weight gain. Now, scientists are discovering that chronic stress, and the hormones that come along with it, is quickening the aging process.
Stress significantly affects our chromosomes. Throughout our lifetime, our chromosomes suffer injuries. In order to help protect them, chromosomes have protective end buffers called telomeres. These telomeres protect the ends of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes. Studies have shown that telomeres are notably shorter in people with depression. People without depression who reported feeling the most stressed also had shorter telomeres.
The human stress response is controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that controls the body’s primary stress hormone called cortisol, and significant abnormal HPA axis function were exhibited in individuals with depression and stress-related illnesses. According to the findings, stress plays an important role in depression, as telomere length was especially shortened in patients exhibiting an overly sensitive HPA axis.
Properly treating and managing stress and/or depression may significantly impact the quality of life. Simplifying your life, prioritizing, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all ways that you can easily de-stress.