Given how demanding modern life is, it isn’t a surprise that stress is one of the leading causes of psychological disorders and premature aging. When you experience too much stress, it can lead to oxidative stress, which often causes the body to produce too many free radicals. Free radicals are some of the major causes of premature aging.
Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.
Damage Caused by Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress leads to many patho-physiological conditions in the body. Some of these include neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, fragile X syndrome, heart and blood vessel disorders, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and inflammatory diseases.
Oxidative Stress: The Leading Cause for Premature Aging
Different people react differently to oxidative stress, although nearly everyone suffer from its negative impact. Stress has been defined as an emotional experience that is often associated with tension, nervousness, and strain. In some people the effect of this emotional experience can lead to insomnia and weight gain, while in others it can increase the risk of heart disease.
Oxidative stress can also make you age faster because it can cause cellular degeneration. According to many research based studies and clinical tests. Oxidative stress not only leads to physical aging of the human body but also aging of the brain. Clinical tests have revealed that adrenal steroid hormones or cortisol or hydrocortisone in humans are released when humans are in stress. Excessive exposure to cortisol or hydrocortisone can lead to brain damage and faster degeneration of the brain during the aging process.
Dr. Vivian Diller, PhD, working on short and long-term psychotherapy and the author of Face It states: “When we’re under ongoing stress, it creates that fight-or-flight reaction in an unrelenting way, and as a result, stress chemicals are released into the body. What we know so far is that the release of those stress chemicals creates biological changes. It’s very possible that if you have a life filled with that constant stress, little by little the body is breaking down.”
One of the main reasons why oxidative stress causes your body to age faster is due to free radicals. When you experience too much stress on a regular basis, it causes your body to release more free radicals than usual. Free radicals are unpaired electrons that are highly reactive to other molecules. They like to steal electrons from the molecules of DNA and cells so that they become less reactive. Eventually, this process can cause a chain reaction and damage cells and DNA, which can lead to premature aging.
Beware of Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. It can arise out of self-created situation or accidental situations (post-traumatic stress) and can be caused by work pressure, peer pressure, or even personal relationships.
Oxidative stress has many facets and not surprisingly is called as the modern day hidden epidemic. An epidemic that can lead to all sorts of health problem, including premature aging.
Sure, we all age. And, in all likelihood, how we age is primarily determined by our DNA and the DNA of our parents and grandparents. But, we have learned a lot in recent years about the interplay between stress, biochemistry and genetics. If we can manage to keep anxiety and stress from accelerating our natural physiological changes — internally and externally — we are likely to look and feel better for longer periods of time.