Study links stress and psychological resilience to age acceleration


Acceleration of aging due to stress can be managed by strengthening emotion regulation and self-control, according to a new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

The study was led by Rajita Sinha, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, and Zachary Harvanek, a resident in the Yale Department of Psychiatry. Sinha, Harvanek, and their team examined whether stress accelerates aging in a relatively young and healthy population.

To measure age acceleration and predict participants’ lifespan, researchers used “GrimAge,” an epigenetic clock that tracks chemical changes in DNA that occur at different times in different people as they age. Researchers took blood samples from 444 people, ages 19 to 50 years old, and through GrimAge predicted their lifespan. In a survey, participants’ stress levels and psychological resilience was also measured.

When determining stress levels, scientists accounted for demographic and behavioral influences such as income, race, and body mass index. After these variables were accounted for, results showed that high stress levels accelerated age markers and physiological changes, including insulin resistance. The study also showed that subjects who received high scores on two of the survey’s measures of psychological resilience, emotion regulation and self-control, had decreased levels of accelerated aging and insulin resistance.

The study concluded that in addition to an individual’s level of stress, a person’s management of their stress affects how quickly they age.