It has previously been scientifically proven that stress can increase the external manifestation of ageing. From hair loss to wrinkles, adult acne and weight gain, stress is known to speed up and directly influence physical appearance and health.
Now a study conducted at Harvard University has reported that depression has a similar influence on the aging process.
The research has examined the aging process on chromosomes. At the end of each chromosome there is what is known as a ‘protective cap’ called telomeres. As people age these telomeres shorten, the study reported that at times of stress and depression, theses contract at a significantly greater rate than when emotionally stable and calm.
542 participants were recruited for the study, 91 had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Symptoms of depression were established with a questionnaire and cortisol levels were taken to measure stress levels .
It was concluded that telomere length was significantly shorter in people diagnosed with depression and people with higher levels of cortisol.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression but more importantly it has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body. By default therefore, mindfulness meditation can slow the physical aging process.