Psychotherapeutic technique helps to stop aging

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CPT) is a psychological problem-solving method by detecting "thinking errors" and identifying ineffective thinking stereotypes. Scientists at the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) have discovered that this technique slows down processes leading to premature aging.

Previously, chronic mental disorders, such as high levels of anxiety, were found to not only contribute to the development of life-shortening diseases (e.g. hypertension or diabetes mellitus), but also to the shortening of telomeres.

Telomeres are the caps at the end of DNA strand, with each division of the cell they are shortened, which gradually leads to damage to genetic material, the emergence of mutations: all this contributes to the acceleration of aging processes and brings death closer. 

The objects of the study were 46 patients with anxiety disorders. For nine weeks, they were treated within the framework of CPT. Before and after the start of the study, the activity of telomerase, an enzyme protecting telomeres from damage, was measured in blood samples of the participants. The level of antioxidant enzyme GPx, which prevents damage to genes by free radicals, was also determined. 

It turned out that along with a decrease in the level of anxiety, the activity of telomerase and the antioxidant enzyme was significantly increased in the study participants. At the same time, the more significant were positive changes in the psychological state of patients, the more intense were changes in aging biomarkers.

The researchers concluded that accelerated cellular aging in people with mental disorders is reversible and can be stopped by psychotherapeutic methods. 

Dec. 20, 2019, 11:10 a.m.

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