Scientists are now studying a newly discovered mind-body connection facet: Major depression can be a sign of shortened telomeres linked to a state they call “accelerated aging.”
Depression is prevalent—6.9 percent of Americans have been affected in the past 12 months.1 Depression is serious—according to the Global Burden of Disease study it accounts for the second largest medical source of years lost to disability in the U.S. And depression can be fatal—the suicide rate for people hospitalized for depression exceeds 6 percent. Can we predict risk for depression? A study from Ian Gotlib and colleagues at Stanford University is worth looking at.
This study followed healthy (with no psychiatric diagnosis) daughters of mothers who have had multiple episodes of depression and a matched sample of healthy daughters of never depressed mothers. Although the high-risk daughters—those whose mothers have depression—showed no signs or symptoms of depression when they were first evaluated between ages 10 and 14, Gotlib notes that 60 percent have developed depression by age 18. Gotlib and his colleagues report that 10- to 14-year-old-girls at risk for depression have shorter telomeres, relative to daughters of mothers who have never been depressed.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of our chromosomes. They are essential for chromosomal stability and they naturally shorten with age (findings recognized by the Nobel Prize in 2009 ). Indeed, telomere shortening is one of the most reliable signs of cellular aging, and now, possibly, depression.
This is very interesting, because the well-studied peptide, Epitalon, has consistently demonstrated an increase of telomere length, and health.
So, how could healthy 10- to 14-year-old girls show signs of aging, in the study, above? A second observation may provide an explanation. The same girls with shortened telomeres had increased stress reactivity, indicated by a steeper spike in the hormone cortisol in response to a simple stress test. Does the heightened stress reactivity lead to shorter telomeres? While there is abundant literature linking developmental stress to risk for depression, we don’t know if stress reactivity is the mechanism for apparent cellular aging, or if both stress reactivity and cellular aging reflect some other underlying process.
Beyond suggesting a risk biomarker for early identification of depression, this finding indicates a troubling early sign of risk for premature biological aging and possibly age-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.
Another study brings further insight to the telomere health and depression connection
In his article, “New view of depression: a disease of the whole body,” in the Wall Street Journal, Shirley S. Wang discusses the researchers’ studies on this phenomenon:
“In several studies conducted at UCSF, researchers found that short telomeres are associated with depression in childhood trauma and other conditions. A study of 43 adults with chronic disorders of post-traumatic stress disorder, whose average age was 30 years, and 47 healthy control subjects, found shorter telomeres in the PTSD group, which equates to approximately 4.5 years accelerated aging.”
But which factor is causing which?
Researchers also want to understand why not all stressed people develop shortened telomeres. Telomere length is thought to be affected by the body's production of certain stress hormones or inflammatory molecules, which are made in greater quantities when people are stressed or depressed. Meanwhile, an enzyme known as telomerase acts to protect against telomere shortening.
Researchers believe it takes months, or even years, for stress or depression to affect telomere length. However, the level of activity of the enzyme telomerase may be affected more quickly.
Telomere health, telomerase, and abnormal cortisol levels are all signs indicating risks of depression, stress and chronic disease. And again, The peptide, Epitalon, has shown some amazing clinical results with these factors, because it positively effects the Pineal gland to produce a balanced production of melatonin and telomerase – leading to a chain-reaction of health in other areas.
The ability of dealing with stress – linked with telomere length
In another study, UCSF researchers (led by postdoctoral fellow Aoife O'Donovan) brought into the lab 50 women and exposed them to standard experimental tasks known to induce stress: giving a speech about their personal strengths and weaknesses and completing a difficult math problem out loud. Some of the women were caregivers for chronically ill children and therefore had presumably more stressful lives.
But telomere length didn't seem to depend on whether a woman was one of the caregivers or not. Instead, the telomeres were shorter only in those women who reported greater levels of anxiety about having to perform the experimental tasks—seemingly the ones who tended to get more stressed about life's challenges.
The Power of Melatonin
The pineal gland, or epiphysis, is a small endocrine gland in the brain's epithalamus, of vertebrates. From serotonin, it secretes melatonin and plays through this hormone, a central role in the regulation of biological rhythms, such as with Cortisol (sleep/wake and seasonal).
Melatonin, often called sleep hormone, is best known as the central hormone regulation of chronobiological rhythms, and a certain point of view, virtually all hormonal secretions.
Melatonin also has multiple functions, other than hormonal, in humans and mammals, particularly as an antioxidant. It also seems to play a role in the immune system.
It is considered by biochemists and chronobiologists as the master hormone because it regulates the secretion of most human hormones (paracrine and endocrine).
It is not surprising that many individuals who take Epitalon, experience an elevation in mood and overall health.
Taking Epitalon will also trigger the production of new nerve cells to repair and restore the nervous system of the body, including neurons of the brain. This explains why people recover the use or the sensitivity of fingers or toes after taking Epitalon. The brain is also rebuilt, which explains the increase in the ability to think and work after taking Epitalon.
Of course all degenerative diseases and inflammations of the brain can be attenuated, or even eliminated, by taking Epitalon, through the process of regeneration of neurons, and nerve cells, in the brain.
Epitalon's benefits of melatonin and cortisol stimulation, increasing telomere length and health, is one of the best investments for GOOD HEALTH and LONGEVITY.