As I mentioned in a recent post, depression can be a challenge as women go through the menopausal transition. New research, however, indicates that depressive symptoms often seem to wane for many women once they quit having their menstrual period. And that’s good news, since another research study out of The Netherlands suggests that major depression is associated with accelerated biological aging. If you’re like me, you want to do everything you can to slow the passage of time while also maintaining a sense of vitality and vigor.
This study looked at data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. The participants included 1095 people who had major depressive disorder, 802 people who had major depressive disorder that had been successfully treated, and 510 people who did not have major depressive disorder.
The researchers analyzed the telomere length in each of these study participants. They found that telomeres were approximately 80 base pairs of DNA shorter among the participants who had major depressive disorder as well as those who had been successfully treated for this condition when compared to participants who did not suffer from major depression. Furthermore, these findings did not change when taking in the individual participant’s overall health and lifestyle. Furthermore, the researchers found that more severe depression and longer symptom duration were associated with shorter telomeres in people currently suffering major depressive disorders.
The researchers aren’t sure about the relationship between shorter telomeres and depression. One hypothesis is that the shorter telomeres cause people to be more prone to depression. Another hypothesis is that the depression causes damage at the cellular level.
Know that changes in mood also can have causes unrelated to menopause. “If you are having emotional problems that are interfering with your quality of life, it is important to discuss them with your doctor,” states Womenshealth.gov website, which is coordinated by the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Talk openly with your doctor about the other things going on in your life that might be adding to your feelings”
Womenshealth.gov recommends the following to help you feel better:
- Focus on getting enough sleep.
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day on most days.
- Set personal limits and find positive ways to relax and lower stress, whether through reading, a hobby or spending time outside.
- Find a support group, whether it’s a group of friends, an official support group, or a therapist who can counsel you about the issues you’re facing.
- Consider talking to your physician about potential therapies or medicines that may be of help to you. For instance, antidepressants as well as menopausal hormone therapy may be of help.
Therefore, it’s really important to come to deal with depressive symptoms, which can include feeling helpless, worthless or guilty, having difficulty sleeping, losing interest in activities or hobbies that you once enjoyed, sleeping too much, and feeling sad for more than a few weeks. If you think that you’re dealing with depression, I’d encourage you to check out HealthCentral’s depression community, which offers some excellent resources as well as columns from health pros who are very knowledgeable about this topic. In addition, you can post a question in this section and the health pros will be glad to share their expertise.
We knew that depression can be a serious issue on its own, but now knowing that it can has been linked to the health of your cells and, ultimately, how quickly you age puts renewed emphasis on the need to take the appropriate steps – whether through lifestyle adjustments or seeking medical advice and treatment.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
MedlinePlus. (2013). Cells show signs of faster aging after depression.
Verhoeven, J. E. , et al. (2013). Major depressive disorder and accelerated cellular aging: Results for a large psychiatric cohort study. Molecular Psychiatry.
Womenshealth.gov. (2013). Menopause and mental health.