One of the enduring mysteries of genetic science has been the function of telomeres, the repetitious sequences of molecules at the end of every chromosome, sequences lost during every replication as cells fuse or reproduce with the organism.
Their most essential function is to protect the genes within the chromosomes from being lost. The downside is that with each reproductive act, telomere molecules are lost, leading eventually to damages to genetic material, leading to disease and aging.
Recent research has revealed that telomere loss can be accelerated by major episodes of depression and childhood trauma, the latter indicated in this graphic from a presentation by University of California San Francisco Medical School researcher Owen M. Wolkowitz, a research psychiatrist whose work focuses on the role of telomeres in depression:
While Freud and traditional psychiatry contended that depression was largely or wholly a result of disturbed thinking, the work of Wolkowitz and others is throwing a whole new light on an affliction impacting the lives of millions, their families, and their colleagues.
In this video from University of California Television, Wolkowitz describes the fascinating insights revealed by the fascinating field of biological psychiatry:
Sadness and the Cell: Is Depression All in Your Body or is it All in Your Mind?
Is stress just in your head or can its impact be physical? Owen M. Wolkowitz, MD examines how stress and depression can affect the body on a cellular level and shares treatment and lifestyle interventions that can help.