May 19, 2013
Does Stress Cause Wrinkles?
Worrywort. Fusspot. Nervous Nellie.
Whether it builds up slowly or it bursts forth like a broken dam, stress and anxiety can turn even the strongest of us into a jittery pile of mush.
According to a National health Interview Survey, 75% of the general population experience at least some form of stress every two weeks.
While dealing with stress may be part of your day-to-day job, you may want to take a few minutes to step back and relax. The more stress you have now, the more wrinkles you may have later.
The Effects of Stress on the Body
Whether a threat is real or imagined, when you sense danger, your body’s defenses start to kick in, triggering a “flight or fight” response to stressors.
When this response is working properly, it can help keep you alert, focused, and energetic, ready to respond to whatever situation you happen to be in.
In small doses, stress can help you perform better under pressure and motivate you to do your best, but if you’re constantly running in “emergency” mode, it can add extra wear and tear on the body.
Chronic stress can raise blood pressure levels, suppress the immune system, increase your risk of heart attack, and even accelerate the aging process – making you look older beyond your years.
Additionally, chronic stress can signal the release of cortisol, a hormone that helps us cope with stress.
According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, MD, “Cortisol, even though it is an essential hormone in the body, in excess quantities is called the “death hormone.” It has a lot of negative side effects. It actually breaks down tissue.”
Consequently, excessive amounts of cortisol can reduce the skin’s ability to repair itself and recover from damage.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently discovered a connection between premature aging and a chronic stress.
In the study, researchers obtained blood samples from over 5,000 women between the age of 42 and 69, and then they analyzed the samples to determine telomere length (telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found at the end of chromosomes). They also asked participants to give self-reports regarding phobic symptoms (such as anxiety and stress).
Interestingly enough, telomere lengths for women who were highly phobic had telomere lengths that were remarkably similar to women who were six years older.
“This study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress – phobic anxiety – and a plausible mechanism for premature aging,” says Oliva Okereke, MD, and study author.
Although it is still under observation which came first (the anxiety or the telomere length), it gives us reason to believe that stress could in fact cause wrinkles prematurely.
Tips for Managing Stress
Experts at WebMD offer the following tips for managing stress:
• Keep a positive attitude
• Learn to practice relaxation techniques; try meditation, yoga, or tai-chi.
• Exercise regularly. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
• Learn to manage your time more effectively
• Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events
• Seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn more healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.
If you frequently suffer from stress or anxiety, then now’s the perfect time to learn to cope.