Article

Stress appraisals and cellular aging: a key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length.

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Brain Behavior and Immunity (Impact Factor: 5.61). 01/2012; 26(4):573-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.01.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Chronic psychological stress is a risk factor for multiple diseases of aging. Accelerated cellular aging as indexed by short telomere length has emerged as a potential common biological mechanism linking various forms of psychological stress and diseases of aging. Stress appraisals determine the degree and type of biological stress responses and altered stress appraisals may be a common psychological mechanism linking psychological stress and diseases of aging. However, no previous studies have examined the relationship between stress appraisals and telomere length. We exposed chronically stressed female caregivers and non-caregiving controls (N=50; M age=62.14±6.10) to a standardized acute laboratory stressor and measured their anticipatory and retrospective threat and challenge appraisals of the stressor. We hypothesized that threat and challenge appraisals would be associated with shorter and longer telomere length respectively, and that chronic caregiving stress would influence telomere length through altered stress appraisals. Higher anticipatory threat appraisals were associated with shorter age-adjusted telomere length (β=-.32, p=.03), but challenge appraisals and retrospective threat appraisals showed no independent association with telomere length. Caregivers reported significantly higher anticipatory (β=-.36, p=.006) and retrospective (β=-.29, p=.03) threat appraisals than controls, but similar challenge appraisals. Although there was no significant main effect of caregiver status on telomere length, caregiving had a significant indirect effect on telomere length through anticipatory threat appraisals. Exaggerated anticipatory threat appraisals may be a common and modifiable psychological mechanism of psychological stress effects on cellular aging.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
190 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Behavioral health intervention technology programs (e.g. computer, internet, or tablet) with a positive psychology focus (i.e. resilience training) can have a profound impact on behavioral and physical health. Such programs can increase access to evidence-based behavioral health training (e.g. stress management training) without the need to train clinicians in such approaches and can be confidentially used at a place and time of an individual's choosing without a need to go to a clinician's office, thus improving access to care of those who live remotely, are too busy, or may not want to seek care due to stigma. This paper describes the design considerations, features, and user-experience of a self-guided, computer-based multimedia stress management and resilience training program developed with support from NASA. Such a program may have significant relevance and implications for the broader population and the area of positive psychology.
    The Journal of Positive Psychology 07/2014; 9(6):489-493. DOI:10.1080/17439760.2014.927907 · 1.67 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Depression might be associated with accelerated cellular aging. However, does this result in an irreversible state or is the body able to slow down or recover from such a process? Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes and generally shorten with age; and therefore index cellular aging. The majority of studies indicate that persons with depression have shorter leukocyte telomeres than similarly aged non-depressed persons, which may contribute to the observed unfavorable somatic health outcomes in the depressed population. Some small-scale preliminary studies raise the possibility that behavioral or pharmacological interventions may either slow down or else reverse this accelerated telomere shortening, possibly through increasing the activity of the telomere-lengthening enzyme telomerase. This paper covers the current state of evidence in the relationship between depression and the telomere-telomerase system and debates whether depression-related cellular aging should be considered a reversible process or permanent damage.
    BioEssays 08/2014; DOI:10.1002/bies.201400068 · 4.84 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The ability to achieve sufficient restorative sleep is important in the maintenance of physical and mental health; however, disturbed sleep and insomnia symptoms are a common experience among women with breast cancer. In non-cancer populations, insufficient sleep quantity and quality has been associated with shortened telomere length (TL), a measure of accumulated cellular damage and human aging. This feasibility study compared TL in women previously diagnosed with breast cancer with clinically significant insomnia symptoms (n=70) to an age and BMI matched comparison group (n=70) of breast cancer survivors. Women with significant insomnia symptoms had higher levels of unemployment compared to women without insomnia. TL was positively skewed and shorter in the insomnia group (Mdn=6.000, S=1.000, SE= .287) than the control group (Mdn=6.195, S=-.269, SE=.287), however this was not significant (p = .29). Women with insomnia also reported significantly higher levels of depression (p < .001), anxiety (p < .001), and fatigue (p < .001). This study provides the first measure of effect size and variability of telomere length in women with breast cancer and highlights the need for larger sample sizes to investigate the impact of insomnia and co-morbid symptom distress on cellular aging.
    Rejuvenation Research 08/2014; 17(5). DOI:10.1089/rej.2014.1586 · 2.92 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
16 Downloads
Available from
May 20, 2014