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Depression 'systemic,' not a mental illness, say researchers

Major stress and depression, scientists say, can have the same impact on the human body in terms of causing what are normally considered to be age-related diseases, like heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

As it happens, stress and depression are common side effects of getting into something like a motor vehicle accident, in which the injured driver or passenger grapples with the trauma of the accident itself, as well as the short- or long-term physical disabilities that an accident can cause.

And as Shirley S. Wang reports for the Wall Street Journal, stress and depression can lead directly to "early aging," in which the cells of the human body seem to age in an accelerated manner.

This phenomenon looks as if it transcends the other known causes of early aging, like smoking cigarettes, not exercising and a poor diet.

Ultimately, the news is causing some researchers to view depression differently.

"As we learn more ... we will begin to think less of depression as a 'mental illness' or even a 'brain disease,' but as a systemic illness," said one psychiatry professor, as Wang reports.

Source: New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body

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