Dealing with depression is fundamental to living a satisfying life, and that’s reason enough to pursue mood-boosting solutions. But a recent study provides even more motivation: Researchers have found that negative thoughts can lead to premature cell death—and that equals aging. How does that happen? The lifespan of a cell is dictated in part by a cellular structure called a telomere, which protects genetic data and helps cells divide. Each time a cell divides, however, the telomere shortens; eventually it becomes too short and the cell dies. In an analysis of studies involving more than 7,000 people, researchers discovered that telomeres were significantly shorter in people suffering from depression compared to their happier counterparts.
Taming your response to the person who just cut you off in traffic or the telemarketer who just interrupted dinner isn’t easy. In fact, it’s kind of fun to imagine horrible payback for their transgressions. (Need practice with patience? Try these eight tricks for maintaining your cool.) But avoiding hostility will add years to your life, suggests research from the University College London in the U.K. Again, telomeres are responsible: Hostile thoughts seem to shorten these cellular structures, leading to premature aging of cells—and you.