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Depression can speed up ageing

13th November 2013

Those with major depression are at an increased risk of age-related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease, a fact that is often put down to unhealthy lifestyle behaviours.

depression

However, new research has found depression may make us physically older by speeding up the process of ageing in our cells.
 
The findings of this latest research shows cells of those who were currently, or in the past had been severely depressed, looked biologically older than those who had not.

The study looked at over 2,000 people, a third of whom where currently depressed, a third who had experienced major depression previously, and a third who had never been depressed.

Blood samples from the volunteers were analysed in the lab for signs of cellular ageing, which included changes to structures called telomeres. The lengths of telomeres is one way of assessing cellular ageing.

After taking into account lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking, it was found those who were, or had been depressed had much shorter telomeres than the rest of the volunteers.

In addition, those with chronic depression had the shortest telomeres.


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