Stress Counseling Can Slow Aging: Strengthening the Mind-Body Connection

In the stone age, tiny holes were drilled into human skulls in order to release evil spirits and cure an individual of a disease. These tiny holes, called trepanation, were a reflection of a belief in a relationship between the mind and the body, a belief that has been wrestled with throughout the history of medicine. In the 20th century, the medical community relied on a biomedical model that refuted the notion of a mind-body connection and argued that every disease or infection had a direct biological cause, separate from the mind. However, as medicine is pushing forward it seems we have come full-circle in our understanding of the relationship between mental and physical health. New and ongoing research is finding that your mental wellness has a direct effect on your bodily health.

Edward Nelson of University of California, Irvine is just one contributor to these findings. Nelson and fellow researchers have found a link between stress counseling and the rebuilding of telomeres. Telomeres are, simply put, caps at the end of chromosomes that protect the chromosome from deterioration. As chromosomes replicate, the telomeres shorten, which is thought to be one of the key components of aging. It has long been known that constant and chronic stress can cause telomeres to prematurely shorten, which can speed up the aging process. Nelson and his team have been studying the effects of stress counseling on women with cervical cancer in order to investigate a link between stress reduction and telomeres. Astoundingly, they have found that not only did stress counseling slow the shortening of the telomeres, but are in fact, but the telomeres were getting longer, a definite slow to the aging process.

Nelson’s research has been supported by other leading research scientists and strengthens the link between the mind and the body. It is one step towards a better understanding in the medical community of the role of mental health in the promotion of physical health. With time and further research, it appears this connection will only grow stronger and although trepanation will not soon be coming back into style any time soon, medical advancements based on promoting psychological wellness are surely in the foreseeable future.

To learn more about Nelson’s research on stress counseling and the effect on telomeres click here.

If you’re interested in the finding out more about the connection between mental health and biological, make sure you check out Dr. Dan Siegel’s CE Webinar on Mindsight.

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One Comment

Michael Reins

Wow, this is big news. While I think the research needs additional validation, the consequences of stress reduction just jumped up a big notch. Thanks for the report on this Suzanne.

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