When you suffer from depression, it impacts your body and brain in very real ways. And now, according to a new study, there’s something else to add to the list: Depression may make you age more quickly. In a study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers examined chromosomes within the cells of 2,400 Dutch participants. They were looking at telomeres-DNA strands at the tips of the chromosomes-and discovered that people with depression had significantly shorter telomeres, which also grew shorter every year. (Short telomeres have been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other health problems.) The researchers say that study participants who’d suffered clinical depression for two or more years actually aged seven to 10 years (when compared with non-depressed participants).
The upshot? The study’s authors write: “This study provides convincing evidence for the suggestion than an emotional stressful condition, such as [depression], may truly impact on the physical ‘wear and tear’ of a person’s body resulting in accelerated biological aging.”
But, they add, there’s still more research needed-while they see a connection, they can’t say it’s an actual cause-and-effect relationship, as there may be other factors at play.