Researchers in Germany believe that they are beginning to unravel a connection between biochemical changes in the body and both the diseases of old age and depression.
*According to lead researcher, Dr Anthony Zannas (Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich):
"We found that both aging and depression seem to lead to changes in how DNA is processed, and that this can control the expression of genes that regulate how we respond to stress. These changes are associated with increased inflammation, and we believe that this may lead to the increased risk for several aging-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders, that has been observed in chronically stressed and depressed individuals.
Commenting on the work for the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology congress in Berlin., Professor Bill Deakin (Manchester) said:
"There is a growing realisation that depression is one expression of a set of vulnerabilities for a range of disorders associated with age including obesity, diabetes, cerebro-vascular disease and dementia."
The findings, which need to be confirmed in future studies, may explain why aging-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders, are worse in chronically stressed and depressed people.
The hope is that a between understanding of the links between depression and age related conditions will lead to better treatments for the diseases of old age.