Girls from Depressed Families Have Greater Stress Responses

as presented in Monitor on Psychology January 2015 pp. 19-20 from Molecular Psychiatry, online Sept 30, 2015)
Girls from families with a history of depression appear to have greater stress responses and shorter telomeres – a marker for aging – than their low-risk peers, according to research by psychologists at Stanford, Northwestern University and the University of California, San Francisco. In the study, conducted with 97 10- to 14-year-old healthy girls with and without a family history of depression, researchers measured the girls’ response to stress tests, asking them to count backward from 100 by sevens, and interviewing them about stressful situations. They also analyzed DNA samples for telomere length, and measured the girls’ cortisol levels before and after the stress test. The researchers found that girls with a family history of depression experienced higher levels of personal stress, and that when they experienced stress, they released much higher levels of cortisol than girls who did not have depression in their families. The girl from depressed families also had telomeres that were shorter by the equivalent of six years.